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October 10, 2013

Pastor charged in triple murder attended two victims’ funeral

DANVILLE — A small-town pastor charged in a triple slaying at a central Kentucky pawn shop had attended the funeral of two of the victims, offering his condolences to relatives who thought he was a sympathetic mourner but now are sickened that he’s accused in the shootings.

Kenneth Allen Keith, pastor of Main Street Baptist Church at Burnside in Pulaski County, was arrested Wednesday and charged with three counts of murder and one count of robbery.

Days after the Sept. 20 triple slaying in Danville, Keith had gone to the funeral of two of the victims — Michael Hockensmith and his wife Angela. Keith and Michael Hockensmith had struck up a friendship in church years ago.

Michael Hockensmith, 35, counted Keith as a close friend and fellow Christian — and the arrest and charges announced by authorities jolted relatives of the man and his 38-year-old wife.

“To find that out, it made me sick,” Hockensmith’s brother, Tony Hockensmith, said in an interview Thursday. “It was like somebody kicked me in the stomach.”

Keith, 48, showed up for the couple’s funeral, shook hands with Hockensmith’s mother and grandmother and told them he had known Hockensmith well, relatives say.

“He just said he was so sorry for our loss,” said Hockensmith’s mother, Barbara Lewis. “It’s kind of like he was trying to play innocent.”

Police haven’t said anything about a possible motive in the slayings. Keith was being held in the Boyle County Detention Center.

Daniel P. Smith, 60, of Madison County, also died in the shootings Sept. 20 at a pawn shop called ABC Gold, Games and More in Danville.

According to people who knew him, Smith called on pawn shops to buy gold. He was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War, according to his obituary.

The criminal complaint indicated that during the investigation, police learned Keith had “intimate knowledge” of the shooting. Those specifics included the number of wounds sustained by one victim and details about the robbery of the business. Also, police were given a description of a man seen near the pawn shop that matched Keith’s appearance. One witness described seeing a man leaving the area in a gray/silver van. Keith owns a silver minivan, the complaint said.

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