Commonwealth Journal

February 14, 2013

More arrests in murder-for-hire plot

McCreary conspiracy had roots in Pulaski County

by Chris Harris
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —  

Two additional arrests have been made in an alleged murder conspiracy plot that unfolded in McCreary County, but has roots here in Pulaski.
All three of the men charged with attacking Debbie Taylor of Pine Knot are from Somerset. Tim Prater, 30, was the first to be taken into custody by Kentucky State Police (KSP) last Friday.
On Tuesday, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department located the men who allegedly participated in the assault with Prater. Joseph R. Denning, 19, of Hail Knob Road, and Antonio A. Turner, 21, of Poplar Estates Road, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder, first-degree complicity to commit robbery, and first-degree unlawful imprisonment, according to KSP and the Pulaski Sheriff’s office.
Sheriff Todd Wood said that the first arrest was made at Western Hill Apartments in Somerset, working with the U.S. Marshall’s Fugitive Task Force. The agencies had received information on where the suspects were located Tuesday. 
Information gathered at that site was then used to track down the other suspect at a residence on Poplar Estates Road, said Wood. 
Both subjects were lodged in the Pulaski County Detention Center before being transferred to a correctional facility in Laurel County, according to Pulaski Jailer Mike Harris.
KSP’s Trooper Don Trosper told the Commonwealth Journal this weekend that the suspect was paid $1,500 to murder a Pine Knot woman, and was arrested after a report of an assault on the victim on Richard Stephens Road in McCreary County. 
KSP reported that the victim was walking from her home to her vehicle when three men dressed in dark clothing attacked her. Neighbors of the victim went to check on her, and the three alleged attackers identified themselves as FBI agents, but refused to show any identification.
According to the McCreary County Record, the victim, Debbie Taylor, was at home alone after her husband Larry had gone away as part of his trucking job. Officers learned that the victim has been accosted on the way to her car to go to work, handcuffed and stunned with a taser device.
Prater told police that he was paid to kill Taylor by Regina Stephens of Pine Knot — both employees of Guthrie’s River House in Burnside, according to the Record, where Prater was a bartender and Stephens a waitress.
Stephens was found to have likely killed herself Friday night after an arrest warrant had been obtained for her also, on conspiracy to commit murder charges. McCreary County Sheriff Gus Skinner informed the record that Stephens’ car was found in her garage, but that authorities had to make entry into her home, where they found her dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
According to KSP Detective Billy Correll, that while the investigations into both Taylor’s assault and Stephens’ death are still open, “the public should not have any grounds for concern” relating to further occurrences. A motive has not been released as of yet, nor a connection between Prater and the other two suspects to be arrested this week.