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Breakdown in 'family drug-dealing business' led to 2016 slayings of Elsmere couple, prosecutor says

Doug Eapmon's girlfriend is called innocent victim
Posted at 4:27 PM, Dec 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 19:20:30-05

A breakdown in the Eapmon "family drug-dealing business" contributed to the fatal shootings of one family member and his girlfriend in their Elsmere home three years ago, the prosecutor said Thursday.

Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders announced the indictments of Charles Eapmon and his nephew, James Eapmon, on two counts of murder in the 2016 deaths of Doug Eapmon and Carolyn Ann Tomlinson in their home on Merravay Drive.

Doug Eapmon was also a nephew and cousin of the suspects, respectively.

Tomlinson, a mother of four, was not believed to be involved in the family drug trade and was an innocent victim, Sanders said.

"I think she only made the mistake of being in a relationship with Doug Eapmon," Sanders said. "She was at the wrong place at the wrong time and was eliminated because she would have been a witness to Doug's murder."

Sanders said the "biggest break" in the three-year-old case came from one of the accused men. James Eapmon started cooperating with investigators after he was sentenced to life in prison in 2018 for distributing meth, Sanders said.

Sanders wouldn't say who fired the fatal shots or provide any other details of the killings, except that the victims were shot in the head. Previous reports said the four children inside the house were unharmed.

The Uniform Citation on record in the courthouse said the uncle, Charles Eapmon, admitted to the killings and that the nephew, James Eapmon, said he drove his uncle to the victims’ house, heard two shots and saw him run to his car carrying a gun and a safe. James Eapmon also said he helped his uncle open the safe and later dispose of the safe and gun.

The two men have also been charged with tampering with evidence.

Both men could face 20 to 50 years if convicted of murder, and Sanders said there is also a possibility of life without parole or even the death penalty.

"There are additional people that may also be indicted in the future in connection with the case," Sanders said. "However, at this point I anticipate that any further indictments ... would be for lesser offenses than murder."

Charles Eapmon was arrested in Covington on Monday and is being held without bond. James Eapmon is being held in Tucson, Arizona, and will be extradited to Kentucky soon for trial, Sanders said.

James Eapmon led a conspiracy that was responsible for distributing between 1.5 and 4.4 kilograms of crystal meth in 2016, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

James Eapmon had five prior felony convictions, including drug trafficking and burglary. He was sentenced on Feb. 23, 2018 and is not eligible for parole, authorities said.