5 charged in connection to Montgomery County murder

Police say McGaha murdered the victim with a hatchet.
Posted at 2:15 PM, Sep 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-21 07:41:11-04

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Five people have been charged in connection to a death investigation in Montgomery County.

According to court documents, Richard McGaha killed Lenville Smith at a home in Mt. Sterling by striking him in the head with a hatchet. The scene had been cleaned but Luminol showed evidence of blood on a mattress belonging to the victim.

McGaha is charged with murder. Four other individuals have also been charged in connection to allegedly helping Smith cover up the death.

Police say witnesses told authorities that Smith's body had been hidden in a freezer. They identified four other individuals, Sonya Palmer, 46, Mattie Mahon, 38, Phillip Tuttle, 46, and Stanley Sargent, 39, as accessories in the case. Authorities say all the aforementioned individuals helped load the freezer onto a vehicle and eventually tossed the appliance over an embankment in Mernifee County.

Authorities note that McGaha owned both a hatchet and a freezer but neither were on the property when searched. His arrest citation also states that McGaha had confessed to the murder to a friend.

The other four individuals are charged with tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse.