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Kevin Wayne DUNLAP

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - Arson
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: October 15, 2008
Date of arrest: 3 days after
Date of birth: May 15, 1972
Victims profile: Kayla Williams, 17; Kortney Frensley, 14; and Ethan Frensley, 5
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Livingston County, Kentucky, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on March 19, 2010
 
 

 
 

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Kevin Wayne Dunlap, DOB 5-15-72, was sentenced to death March 19, 2010 in Livingston County. On October 15, 2008, Dunlap stabbed and killed a 5 year old boy, and his 14 and 17 year old sisters in their home.  He then raped and attempted to murder their mother by stabbing her with a knife.  When he thought that the mother was dead, he set fire to the home and left.

He was arrested on 10/18/2008.  He was convicted on the following crimes:  Murder (Capital)-3cts; Kidnapping-Victim Death (Capital)-3cts; Kidnapping-With Serious Physical Injury; Rape 1st Degree with Serious Physical Injury; Arson 1st Degree; Criminal Attempt-Murder; Burglary 1st Degree; Tampering With Physical Evidence-3cts.


Judge upholds Dunlap death sentence

By Kevin Hoffman - KentuckyNewEra.com

March 20, 2010

SMITHLAND, Ky. — Kevin Dunlap returned to a Livingston County courtroom for a final time Friday, dressed head to heel in blaze orange prison garb assigned to all inmates at Kentucky State Penitentiary.

Today, he’ll begin wearing red — the same color as the other 34 death row convicts across the Commonwealth.

“Your admission to those crimes speaks better than I ever could,” Trigg Circuit Judge C.A. “Woody” Woodall said during Dunlap’s sentencing hearing. Dunlap, 37, admitted to murdering three children and attempting to kill their mother at their Roaring Spring home in 2008. “The (jury’s) verdict was fair, it was a just verdict, so I agree our journey to justice is about to end here.”

Woodall denied a retrial motion filed by Dunlap’s attorneys and upheld a jury’s decision to send him to death. Friday was Dunlap’s first court appearance since last month when a jury heard four days of testimony and determined he should receive six death sentences.

Defense attorneys Jason Pfeil and James Gibson asked for a retrial on March 1 based on what they called errors in court proceedings that included Woodall’s decision to not recuse himself and denying Dunlap’s plea of guilty but mentally ill.

In addition to the death penalty, Woodall also fixed punishments Friday for non-capital offenses. During his trial, Dunlap waived his right to have a jury decide a sentence on those charges.

Dunlap was given 55 years for first-degree burglary, tampering with physical evidence and attempted murder and three life sentences for first-degree arson, kidnapping and rape — the maximum for each crime. He was credited with already serving 518 days.

Dunlap pleaded guilty on Feb. 9 to the murders of Kayla Williams, 17, Kortney McBurney-Frensley, 14, and Ethan Frensley, 5, and the rape and attempted murder of Kristy Frensley. He then set the home on fire and fled the scene.

Williams’ father, Doug Williams, read a prepared statement to the courtroom Friday, calling Dunlap a “coward” and “monster” for the crimes he committed. He asked Woodall to stand by the jury’s decision to give Dunlap the death penalty.

“I still find it hard to understand how you can sit motionless, emotionless and void of reaction as the many photos and accounts of the aftermath of your crimes were described in great detail to this courtroom,” he said. “It’s clearly evident that you have no remorse for your crimes against my family and this society.

“I only regret I cannot be allowed to determine your punishment on my own and carry it out as your personal executioner.”

Kristy Frensley and other family cried in the back row of the courtroom as Williams read his statement. Dunlap’s mother, Sheila, and brother, Blyth, attended the trial from Texas but were not present during the sentencing.

“I hate you (with) every fiber of my being and I only wish I was able to bring you a fraction of the pain you brought my daughter and her siblings,” Williams said.

Commonwealth’s Attorney G.L. Ovey followed Williams’ speech by telling Woodall a death sentence would bring justice to the victim’s family.

“That’s all the system can do,” he said. “If there’s ever a case … that cries out for the death penalty, it is this case.”

Dunlap has the right to an appeal, which the Department of Public Advocacy must file within 30 days, and the verdict will automatically be reviewed by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Since being sentenced by a jury, Dunlap has been held at the state penitentiary in Eddyville, removed from general population. A prison employee said in February he would be put on death row immediately following his formal sentencing.


Former soldier Kevin Dunlap sentenced to death

Wkrn.com

March 19, 2010

SMITHLAND, Ky. – A judge has sentenced a former soldier to death Friday for killing three children and brutally attacking their mother in Trigg County, near the Ft. Campbell Army post, two years ago.

Thirty-seven-year-old Kevin Wayne Dunlap of Hopkinsville received six death penalties, three life sentences and 55 years in prison in a Livingston Circuit Court.

The judge denied Dunlap a retrial which his attorneys requested last week.

Dunlap pleaded guilty February 9 for killing 17-year-old Kayla Williams, 14-year-old Kortney Frensley and 5-year-old Ethan Frensley.

He is also guilty of attempted murder for assaulting their mother, Kristy Frensley.

Investigators found the victims' bodies inside a burned home in Trigg County in October of 2008.

Autopsy results show they died of stab wounds.


Youngest Dunlap victim suffered most stab wounds

By Julia Hunter - KentuckyNewEra.com

February 19, 2010

SMITHLAND, Ky. — Kevin Dunlap stabbed 5-year-old Ethan Frensley more times than any of his other victims, Dr. Deidre Schluckebier, regional medical examiner for western Kentucky, testified today.

He was stabbed 11 times, she said. One of the wounds penetrated his heart.

His sister, 14-year-old Kortney McBurney-Frensley, was stabbed four times — three times in the chest and once in her neck. Another sister, 17-year-old Kayla Williams, died from a deep slash to her throat, Schluckebier said. She was also  stabbed in the neck.

Kentucky’s forensic anthropologist, Dr. Emily Craig, testified this morning in Livingston Circuit Court about her efforts to recover the badly charred bodies of Ethan and Kortney. After they were stabbed to death, Dunlap set the house ablaze.

“The remains and associated debris in these cases are so incredibly fragile, so we know we’re only going to get one chance to do it right,” Craig said.

She described to jurors how she dug a pathway to the bodies to preserve the crime scene.

“There was a lot of debris on top of (Ethan),” she said.

“A ceiling fan and a bed were directly on top of him.”

Kortney’s remains were found about 10 feet away.

After the bodies were recovered and sent to the medical examiner’s office in Madisonville, Schluckebier asked for Craig’s assistance in the skeletal examination, Craig’s area of expertise.

Craig showed jurors photos this morning of Ethan’s thoracic bones. Close-up shots, she explained, illustrated force used in the attack. One of his ribs was completely split.

Schluckebier also testified about a serrated steak knife that broke off at the handle during Kayla’s attack. The blade was found during the autopsy in Kayla’s sweatshirt, she said.

Today marks the second day of testimony in the sentencing phase of Kevin Dunlap’s murder trial.

The defense has not cross-examined any of the witnesses called by the prosecution.

Dunlap pleaded guilty last week to 13 counts — 6 of them capital offenses — relating to the fatal stabbing of the three children and the rape and attempted murder of their mother, Kristy Frensley, on Oct. 15, 2008. Although his attorneys advised him against the plea, Dunlap told Circuit Judge C.A. “Woody” Woodall he thought it was the right thing to do.

A jury, which was seated after six days of questioning, will decide his fate. He faces 20 years in prison to the death penalty.

More than a house fire

When neighbors noticed smoke billowing from the home at 169 Military Road, they worried Kristy Frensley and her children were still inside.

Karen Walker saw the blaze after picking up her son from school. When she saw Kristy Frensley’s Jeep in the driveway, she knew who was inside.

“I just kept screaming, ‘There are babies in there,’” Walker testified Thursday, sobbing.

Shane Lawry, a Fort Campbell soldier who lived on a nearby road, was packing for redeployment to Afghanistan when he noticed the smoke.

“People were yelling kids were inside the house,” Lawry said.

He went into the burning home through the front door, and yelled to see if anyone was inside. He didn’t hear a response, and when the smoke and heat became overwhelming, he got out, Lawry testified.

Then he saw someone’s foot in a window.

Lawry and other neighbors grabbed a chair and broke the glass, eventually pulling Kayla Williams from the inferno.

“When we grabbed her legs, it was so hot it startled us. So we pulled back and it ripped her skin off onto our hands.”

Neighbors then realized the 17-year-old’s throat had been cut and her legs and arms were bound. She’d been gagged with a pair of pantyhose, testimony revealed.

Walker and another woman tried to administer CPR to Williams, but were unsuccessful.

She was trying to breathe, Walker said.

“I knew in my mind there was nothing that could be done,” Trigg County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenneth Butts said Thursday.

Eventually, emergency personnel put a defibrillator pack on Williams’ heart, but it failed to revive her.

Williams would die minutes later, her brother and sister still inside the burning home.

Mere moments

One of the volunteer firefighters who responded to the blaze had been at the home an hour earlier.

Matt Ledford testified Thursday he’d stopped at the Frensleys around 4:30 p.m. It was part of an almost daily routine, as he was a close family friend.

When no one answered his knocks, he opened the door.

"I may have stepped in maybe a half a foot or a foot, that’s it,” Ledford said.

He didn’t call for anyone, and said the only noise he heard was that of the swimming pool pump motor.

Ledford drove to Hopkinsville after leaving Trigg County and had just got to town when he was paged to the fire.

When he arrived, he saw the body of a close friend, 17-year-old Kayla Williams, lying near the house. Kristy Frensley, her mother, was floating face-up in the pool with her hands tied behind her back, he said.

Ledford stayed at the scene into the next morning, only leaving for an hour in the middle of the night.

The extended-bed truck he saw in the driveway when he stopped by earlier suddenly became more important.

“The first three letters of the tag were H-E-Y — ‘Hey,’ Ledford said. “That’s why I remembered it.”

Surviving a nightmare

When Kristy Frensley was admitted to Jennie Stuart Medical Center after being attacked in her home, she was riddled with stab wounds.

It wasn’t until an X-ray was done that doctors discovered a broken-off butter knife lodged in her neck, testimony revealed Thursday.

Dr. Frances Marshall Vanmeter removed the knife during surgery, and closed up what wounds he could. The 36-year-old patient was cold to the touch and had a rapid heart beat when she was admitted, Vanmeter testified Thursday.

Frensley had been brought to the hospital after emergency personnel found her floating face up in the pool near her burning house. Butts, who’d known Kristy Frensley most of her life, was the first police officer on the scene.

When the former firefighter arrived and saw the inferno, he knew it was a crime scene, Butts testified Thursday.

“I knew there was no way to go in and come out alive,” he said.

He started taking photographs of the crime scene, and when he got to the patio, someone spotted Frensley in the pool.

“I asked her, ‘Kristy, what happened?’ She said ‘I’ve been raped.’ I said ‘Kristy, who did it?’ She said, ‘I didn’t know him.’”

When Butts asked for a description, Frensley said the man was white and had been wearing a DIRECTV shirt.

Butts helped pull Frensley from the pool and put her on a stretcher before riding with her in an ambulance. He held her head the entire ride, he said.

Embedded in time

Photos shown Thursday took jurors back to Oct. 15, 2008.

They depicted a burning house, a bloodied Kristy Frensley floating in her pool and graphic images of three slain children.

A defibrillator pack still rested on Kayla William’s chest. Her throat had been slit from ear to ear and soot marked her face.

Commonwealth’s Attorney G.L. Ovey pointed to two other pictures. He said they were of Kortney McBurney-Frensley and Ethan Frensley. The unrecognizable images depicted only charred remains amid scorched rubble.

Other images showed the home fully engulfed in frames.

Kristy Frensley’s journey — from pool to hospital — was depicted pictorially. A hospital room showed blood-soaked gauze and close-ups of her wounds.

She’d left the courtroom before photos of her slain children were shown, but several muffled sobs could be heard as they were projected on the television screen. Doug Williams, Kayla’s father, wiped tears from his face.


Ex-soldier charged in slayings near Campbell

By Dylan T. Dovan - The Associated Press

October 21, 2008

ROARING SPRING, Ky. — A man accused of killing three siblings in southwest Kentucky once lived near the slain teenage girls and their brother, state police said Tuesday.

Kevin Wayne Dunlap, 36, of Hopkinsville, once lived “down the road” from the home in Trigg County near Fort Campbell where the three were slain last week, Trooper Dean Patterson said. It is possible “that they at least knew each other,” said Patterson, who declined to elaborate.

The statement came a day after Dunlap’s initial court appearance by video from jail in neighboring Christian County, where he remains without bond. He was represented by a public defender and did not enter a plea to three counts of capital murder and other charges in the slayings of Kayla Williams, 17; Kortney Frensley, 14; and Ethan Frensley, 5.

The three were found dead in a burning house in Roaring Spring last week. Their mother, Kristy Frensley, was wounded but survived. Dunlap was arrested Saturday, three days after the fire.

Dunlap also faces charges of kidnapping, rape, attempted murder, burglary and tampering with physical evidence. Police have not said who they believe was raped. A coroner’s statement said the older girl died from a cut to the neck and the younger children died of multiple stab wounds.

Dunlap’s public defender James Gibson said Tuesday he had no comment on the case. A preliminary hearing was set for Friday morning.

One of Dunlap’s former addresses is six houses down from Frensley’s on a rural road with a row of homes on one side. The burned remains of Frensley’s home is clearly visible from the backyard of the tiny house with brown siding where Dunlap lived.

A few bouquets of flowers and a stuffed teddy bear lined the road near the mailbox in front of Frensley’s house on Tuesday.

Dunlap is a father of at least two young children, according to records from a Christian County divorce case that was dismissed in 2004 without dissolving the marriage.

He served in the Army from 1989 until 2002, according to Master Sgt. Keith O’Donnell, spokesman for U.S. Army Human Resources Command. After being released from the Army, he served two years with the Kentucky National Guard in a now defunct unit based in Hopkinsville, guard spokesman David Altom said.

G.L. Ovey, the commonwealth’s attorney for Trigg County, said there are no plans for a grand jury to meet before Friday, so the preliminary hearing will likely go forward.

Ovey said the case qualifies for the death penalty due to aggravating charges, but he wouldn’t comment on whether he plans to seek it.

Brad Phelps, who lives next to Dunlap’s former residence, said he recently moved in and was upset by the killings just down the street.

“It takes some innocence away from what I see as a good neighborhood,” he said. “Leaving your door unlocked, them days is over."


Hopkinsville man charged in triple homicide

By Alan Reed - KentuckyNewEra.com

October 18, 2008

CADIZ, Ky. — Kentucky State Police arrested a Hopkinsville man and charged him in the deaths of three Trigg County children at their home in Roaring Springs.

Kevin Dunlap, 35, was charged at 1:30 p.m. Saturday with three counts of capital murder and one count of attempted murder, said Trooper Dean Patterson, a KSP spokesman.

Dunlap also is charged with four counts of capital kidnapping, three counts of tampering with physical evidence and one count each of burglary and rape.

He was taken into custody shortly after 8 a .m. Saturday at his home, where several police officers and a KSP SWAT Team converged. Authorities put the house, at 2503 Cox Mill Road, under surveillance Friday night, Patterson said.

Police had search warrants for Dunlap’s house and personal vehicle.

Patterson said, “We did find particular pieces of evidence” at the residence.

Police believe the evidence links Dunlap to the deaths Wednesday of Kayla Williams, 17, Kortney Frensley, 14, and Ethan Frensley, 5. The children’s mother, Kristi Frensley, 36, was seriously injured in the incident at their home. Police found her and the children after responding to a fire at the house on Military Road.

Patterson would not say if police believe Dunlap had a personal relationship with the Frensley family.

Patterson announced Dunlap’s arrest Saturday afternoon to a crowd of several dozen local residents who stood outside the Cadiz Police Department. Many of them were high school classmates of the two girls.

Investigators developed the case against Dunlap on Friday evening, and used covert surveillance and undercover officers to monitor his Hopkinsville residence until this morning, said Patterson.

Then, police raided the home with a special response team, making the arrest, executing search warrants and an arrest warrant.

Police also planned to add firearm enhancements to the charges because Dunlap carried a weapon during the commission of the offenses, said Patterson.

He said Dunlap had a “relationship” with the satellite television provider DIRECTV, and acknowledged the cooperation of their corporate office during the investigation.

Patterson would not comment on Dunlap’s interview with police.

He said he did not want to compromise the ongoing investigation.

One of the warrants served allowed investigators to search a DIRECTV van at Dunlap's home. Patterson said that it appeared the suspect did not work out of the van when he allegedly commited the crimes last Wednesday between 4 and 5 p.m.

Kristi Frensley, still recovering from the ordeal at an undisclosed hospital, cooperated with investigators, according to Patterson. (She was initially treated at Jennie Stuart Medical Center.)

“It took some time before she was able to speak to us and assist us,” he said. “It took several hours until her condition improved to the point where she could communicate.”

He described the improvement of Kristi Frensley as "substantial."

Patterson said investigators were confident the investigation was “on the right track,” with Dunlap as the lone suspect. He cautioned residents to remain vigilant, and to keep doors locked as a rule. He noted that attacks like this were never expected.

Police gave no motive for the triple homicide and the assault on Frensley. Patterson declined to comment on any relationship between the victims and Frensley.

Thanking other law enforcement agencies, Patterson listed the Trigg County Sheriff's Department, Cadiz Police Department, Kentucky Fire Marshal's Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Trigg County Coroner's Office and Fort Campbell military police for their cooperation in the investigation.

He said the process of evidence collection and processing continued, and said that Dunlap would be in court sometime next the week.

Christian County Jailer Brad Boyd took charge of Dunlap around 4:40 p.m. Saturday, when he was walked from the Christian County Sheriff's Department to the jail on a foot bridge over Little River. Two state troopers escorted him.

Boyd said that a prisoner of Dunlap’s nature requires extra security measures. Facing capital murder charges, he said, the suspect could be a danger to himself. Boyd planned to confiscate his work clothing and shoes and issue him an orange jumper and lace-less shoes.

“We have extra security, especially in the first weeks of his incarceration. Without a doubt with a crime like this when we have young kids and teens as victims, we will see some hard feelings in the community and from other inmates,” Boyd said.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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