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By Jamie Baker-Nantz

A Corinth man and two Owen County men have been arrested for the murder of a Frankfort man who was found along Interstate 64 in Franklin County on May 6.

James Simons, 35, of Corinth, was taken into custody at 5 p.m. after the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office asked the Grant County Sheriff’s Office for assistance in locating Simons in connection with the murder of Charles Monroe.

Grant County Sheriff Chuck Dills sent an unmarked police cruiser to Corinth where Simons was located outside an apartment he shares with a girlfriend.

Five deputies from Franklin County came to Grant County and arrested Simons without incident.

Dills said police also executed search warrants looking for clothing and other items at Simons’ apartment. Simons was then transported to the Franklin County Regional Jail.

Two Owen County men – Joshua Hammond, 31, was arrested in Franklin County and David Bruce II, 44, was arrested in Owenton. All three are charged with murder and first-degree robbery.

Dills said his deputies assisted in locating and arresting Bruce.

The trio appeared via video arraignments on May 7 and entered a not guilty plea. According to the Franklin County Regional Jail website, they are being held on $200,000 bonds. Their next court appearance will be May 15 in Franklin District Court for preliminary hearings.

Hammond is the son of Owen County Sheriff Zemer Hammond and Bruce is the brother of Owen County Jailer Cindy Bruce Walker and son of former jailer David Bruce.

The murder stemmed from an “alleged drug deal gone bad,” Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said. The three men met Monroe in the Walmart parking lot on Leonardwood Drive to purchase prescription pills.

Deputies identified suspects after conducting interviews early in the investigation, Melton said.

Monroe’s body was found by a passerby about 9 a.m. on I-64. Melton and his deputies spent Sunday investigating the case, which involves two crime scenes along I-64.

The interstate was closed for a few hours on Sunday as deputies investigated. They also collected evidence from a second crime scene relating to the homicide down the road near the Kentucky River bridge.

Monroe, 30, was charged with sexually abusing a child under 12 in March 2011. According to court records, Monroe molested the victim – a young girl – between Aug. 29, 2009 and June 15, 2010. Monroe was scheduled for a jury trial in Franklin Circuit Court on July 30 on the charges, according to the Kentucky Court of Justice website.

Monroe’s family members said that a family friend saw two men dragging Monroe from the shoulder of the I-64 eastbound ramp from U.S. 127 through the grass. They also dispute the charges against him, saying the accusations came from an angry ex-girlfriend.

Autopsy results are pending.

(Editor’s Note: Information from this story was also provided by the State Journal in Frankfort through the Kentucky Press Association news service.)