Charles Monroe, who was found dead Sunday morning on the side of Interstate 64, was beaten and strangled to death, and his assailants were after money and drugs, a prosecutor says.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland says the three men charged with Monroe’s murder planned to rob him after buying prescription drugs from him in the Walmart parking lot on Leonardwood Drive Saturday night.
“The plan was to come and rob Monroe after the drug deal was made, thinking he had cash and drugs,” Cleveland said Wednesday after a grand jury handed down the indictment of the three suspects, two of whom have family ties to two elected officials in Owen County.
The incident started on Saturday night when the three men met at the parking lot, assaulted 30-year-old Monroe and took his belongings and clothing, Cleveland said.
The men then dumped Monroe’s body on the shoulder of the eastbound ramp to I-64 off U.S. 127 and disposed of his clothing and other items in a second location over the Kentucky River bridge on the interstate, Cleveland said.
Police found Monroe wearing boxer shorts around 9 a.m. Sunday morning, Cleveland said.
“The cause of death appears to be asphyxiation – that he was strangled,” Cleveland said.
There were weapons involved, but Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton would not disclose what was used to kill Monroe.
Joshua Hammond, 31, and David Bruce II, 44, both of Owen County, and James Simons, 35, of Grant County, were indicted Wednesday by the Franklin County grand jury on charges of robbery, assault, murder and tampering with physical evidence.
Hammond has been identified as the son of Owen County Sheriff Zemer Hammond, and Bruce has been identified as the son of former Owen County jailer David Bruce and the brother of current jailer Cindy Bruce Walker.
“The investigation proceeded very quickly, and we are very fortunate in the breaks that happened in the case that centered on the three individuals,” Cleveland said about the ongoing investigation.
“Statements were taken and indicated their participation in these offenses.”
While Monroe’s family members say they were grateful for the speedy arrests, they want to know why law authorities didn’t investigate a report Saturday night of a suspicious object – which turned out to be Monroe’s body – until Sunday morning.
The Monroe family says a friend, who asked to remain anonymous, dialed 911 – city dispatch – around 11 p.m. Saturday and reported what he thought was a body being dumped on the interstate ramp from a truck. The anonymous friend reported the license plate of the truck, the family said.
Melton said he didn’t hear about the Saturday night call until late Monday morning.
The three suspects are lodged in Franklin County Regional Jail on $200,000 bonds.