Stephenson nephew released from hospital, arrested

BURLINGTON, Ky. - A man considered to be a person of interest in the killing of an Aurora woman was arrested Friday on charges of tampering with evidence and trafficking in a controlled substance.

Charles Robert Stephenson, 58, was booked into the Boone County Jail late Friday afternoon.

The Boone County Sheriff's Office said the search warrant was executed stemming from information obtained in a joint investigation with the Indiana State Police.

It is not clear whether the charge is related to the killing of Leigh Jennings, 67, or the unsolved murder of Bill and Peggy Stephenson last May. Charles is the nephew of the slain Florence couple.

Stephenson had previously been held on a minimum 72-hour psychiatric hold at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Florence after attempting to take his own life as police served a search warrant at his apartment in Walton, Ky. on Monday. He was taken into custody after he was released from the hospital.

Stephenson was transported to the Boone County Jail where he remains on a $50,000 cash only bond.

Officials in Boone County will not comment further on the investigation. However, Dearborn County officials held a news conference Friday morning to discuss the murder of Jennings. The Aurora woman was found dead in her Aspen Ridge home in the evening of Thursday April 6. Police said Friday they believe Jennings was actually killed a week before her body was discovered.

Aurora Police Chief Bryan Fields said that Jennings died from multiple skull fractures due to blunt force trauma, but did not release information on the suspect or what type of murder weapon was used.

"I have developed a suspect but will not release his name," said Fields.

When asked why he wouldn't name the suspect, Fields said "we need to maintain case integrity." The chief said "there's always people out there who want to hurt people" and that law enforcement has to keep the public safe.

Fields said his office "cannot comment on the investigation by any other agencies." He did say, however, that the Boone County Sheriff's Office is assisting in the investigation.

Earlier this week sources said the person of interest in the case was the nephew of Bill and Peggy Stephenson. Although police would not confirm it, sources tell 9 News that the same man is possibly connected to all three killings.

Friends of Jennings spoke to the media following Friday's news conference. One of the women said it "doesn't make sense why they (police) can't give any other information to either family." In reference to that person of interest, she went on to say to think a grown man could kill his aunt and uncle then do this to a wonderful woman.

She said Jennings would have the suspect over for dinner on Mondays and Thursdays and may have met him at Young's Barber Shop in Florence where she worked for about 15 years.

She went on to say that the suspect was "really dominant" and Jennings did not want a relationship. Friends and family are also planning on throwing a celebration to remember Jennings on May 15, which would have been her 68th birthday.


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