Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Detective outlines two killings

Lack of motive puzzles police in shootings

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BROOKSVILLE, Ky. — A police detective testified Tuesday that on Dec. 13, Russell W. Malapelli lured five of his friends from Northern Kentucky to a rural Bracken County farmhouse with the promise of thousands of dollars from the sale of five pounds of cocaine.

[photo] Ronald Kirk (right) and Douglas Baker, both of Latonia, are led into the courtroom in Bracken County for their preliminary hearings on two each of murder.
(Patrick Reddy photos)
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        But Mr. Malapelli, 27, of Covington's Latonia neighborhood, made up the story to trick the others, Kentucky State Police Detective Steve Auvenshine said. He said that tensions grew when no drug dealer arrived for three days, and the group turned against each other.

        Three days later, Ryan Eric Matchison, 22, of Florence, and Adam C. Harvey, 21, of Elsmere were shot to death.

        Detective Auvenshine testified during a preliminary hearing Tuesday morning in Bracken County District Court.

        Douglas E. Baker Jr., 20, and Ronald “Les” Kirk, 23, allegedly shot and killed Mr. Matchison and Mr. Harvey in the farmhouse on Toadvine Road in southern Bracken County.

        Detective Auvenshine, the only person called to testify, took nearly two hours to recount statements taken from people at the farmhouse the night of the homicides. Each witness gave detectives a different account of what happened, raising more questions about the killings than answers. The lack of an apparent motive puzzles state police.

        “Through my investigation,” Detective Auvenshine said, “I have not been able to come up with a motive.”

        There was enough evidence, however, for District Judge W. Todd Walton II to send the case to a grand jury.

        Mr. Baker and Mr. Kirk, who lived in the same apartment as Mr. Malapelli, are charged with two counts each of murder and four counts each of tampering with physical evidence. Both are being held without bond at the Mason County Detention Center in Maysville.

        Mr. Malapelli and Dawn Renee Duffy, 18, of Bellevue, are charged with four counts each of tampering with physical evidence. Mr. Malapelli is being held on $500,000 cash bond at the Kenton County Detention Center while Miss Duffy is being held on $250,000 cash bond at the Mason County Detention Center.

        Detective Auvenshine gave this account of what happened, based on the suspects' statements:

        Mr. Malapelli's “drug deal” was supposed to be simple. His five acquaintances believed that the group would meet on Dec. 13 at the farmhouse owned by the Harvey family. They were going to cut and divide the drug on Dec. 14 and sell it to three sets of drug dealers on Dec. 15. The deal would earn each person $10,000 and a new car.

[photo] Dawn Duffy (right), 18, of Bellevue whispers to her attorney, Debra Rigg, during Ms. Duffy's preliminary hearing.
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        When Mr. Malapelli showed up, he had no drugs. But the others, still believing there really was supposed to be a drug deal, began to worry. They thought drug dealers might come and kill them.

        The four suspects began to make a plan to defend themselves. They spent a day practicing shooting two shotguns, and made a plan to kill some of the drug dealers and steal their money.

        Mr. Harvey and Miss Duffy were sent away on Dec. 15 so they wouldn't have to witness the killings. But when the two returned that night, they were told no drug dealers had shown up and that no one had to be shot.

        For unknown reasons, tensions rose and Mr. Kirk allegedly shot Mr. Matchison with a 12-gauge shotgun while he slept in a chair on the first floor. At the same time, Mr. Baker allegedly shot Mr. Harvey with the other 12-gauge shotgun while he slept in a bed on the first floor.

        Mr. Kirk told investigators Mr. Malapelli or Mr. Baker awakened him, anded him a shotgun and led him downstairs. Mr. Baker told investigators Mr. Harvey punched him, and that he accidentally shot his acquaintance one time.

        Detective Auvenshine said both victims were shot twice, although Mr. Kirk and Mr. Baker told police they each fired once.

        “I don't think at this point we can say who shot who,” Detective Auvenshine said.

        After the shootings, Detective Auvenshine said, Mr. Malapelli, Miss Duffy, Mr. Kirk and Mr. Baker all helped in various parts of a plan to clean the farmhouse of evidence, dump the bodies, take items from the home and hide one of the shotguns.


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