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The Story Behind a Gruesome Covington Murder

The following is the story of a gruesome Covington murder that involved the dismemberment of a man in the city's Eastside neighborhood. It first appeared in the weekly newsletter of the Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Office.

On September 29, 2011, a Covington landlord called 911 after making the gruesome discovery of a human torso in the bathtub of a vacant apartment in the 1300 block of Greenup Street.  Responding officers located the severed limbs of an African-American male in garbage bags that were piled in a plastic tub located in the same bathroom.  The victim's severed head was located on the floor at the end of the bathtub.  The officers set up a secure perimeter around the multi-family dwelling and detectives secured a search warrant.

While securing the crime scene Covington Police Officer James Miskanin was approached by a young man later identified as 17 year old Quinton Kolenda.  Miskanin quickly noticed what appeared to be blood stains on Kolenda's pants.  Kolenda told the officer that he sometimes lived in the rear apartment of the same building in which the body was located but also lived in another apartment a block away.  After Kolenda admitted to being present in the apartment two of the past three days, and given the apparent blood evidence on his pants, detectives transported him to Covington Police Headquarters for further questioning.

About the same time, family members of Donnell Brown approached officers to ask if the body found was, in fact, that of their loved one.  The family members said Brown had been missing for three days and they were looking for him at the residence because they knew he had some kind of relationship with a woman named Tiffany who lived there.  They said the day prior, Tiffany told them she had not seen Brown in a couple days but the last time he was there, Brown told her he wanted to be with his mother (who was deceased) and to tell his children he loved them.  The family did not believe Brown was suicidal and now that a body had been found was convinced Tiffany had something to do with Brown's disappearance.

A few moments later, a man and woman exited the rear apartment Kolenda said he sometimes lived in.  Detectives identified the pair as Tiffany Herrera and Austin Eash.  The couple was then taken in for questioning.  As the trio of Herrera, Eash, and Kolenda were questioned by veteran police Detectives Brian Fuller and Mike Thompson, their stories quickly began to unravel.  Eventually each of the suspects admitted to cleaning up the crime scene, cutting up the body, and going together to pawn jewelry taken from Brown's body, but each also pointed the finger at another suspect when laying blame for who actually killed Brown.  The three also agreed that Herrera described Brown as her "sugar daddy" and would routinely exchange cash or heroin for sexual favors.  Each of the suspects was arrested and charged with Murder, Theft, Tampering With Evidence, and Abuse of a Corpse.  Kolenda was originally charged as a juvenile but soon turned 18 and was transferred to adult court.  The trio was then indicted on the same charges.

With no witnesses other than the defendants to indicate how Brown died or who actually killed him, the prosecution team of Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders and Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Casey Burns were left tasked with "flipping" one defendant to testify against the others.  Believing the then-juvenile was the least culpable, the prosecutors approached Kolenda's attorneys first for a meeting to see what their client's version of events would be under oath.  Kolenda's then told prosecutors he wasn't even present when Brown was killed but was recruited after the fact by Eash to help clean up the scene.  Kolenda said Herrera admitted to killing Brown but claimed Brown attacked her.  Kolenda said he did not believe Herrera's story of being attacked because she wasn't at all upset that Brown was dead and refused to call the police.  Kolenda said Herrera had also stolen Brown's jewelry and the three went together to pawn it.  Kolenda said Herrera used the money from the pawn shop to buy more drugs.  

Prosecutors then approached Eash's attorneys for a meeting to ask Eash to describe the events.  Eash essentially told the same story as Kolenda except with the added facts that Herrera lived with him as his girlfriend even though he knew she still prostituted herself for drugs and money.  Eash said Herrera had been using heroin for at least a day before running out of drugs.  Eash said when he went to sleep, Herrera said she was going to meet Brown to get more money for drugs.  Eash said the next thing he knew, Herrera woke him and said she needed help because she had killed Brown by slicing his throat.  Eash agreed with Kolenda that Herrera was "running the show," refused to call police, and did not act at all like someone who had really been attacked.

Eash and Kolenda both said the trio originally planned to load Brown's body in a trash can then haul it with a truck to the river where they would dump it.  After a day passed and they were unable to locate a truck, they decided to cut the body into pieces so it would fit in the trunk of a borrowed car.  The three began the task of cutting up the body and were almost finished when they realized it was getting light out and neighbors were on their way to school and work.  The trio then decided to go use more drugs and wait for night fall before finishing their work.  That afternoon, the landlord found the desecrated corpse and called police.

Eash agreed to a 15 year sentence for Facilitation of Murder, Theft, Tampering With Evidence and Abuse of a Corpse.  Kolenda agreed to a 12 year sentence on the same charges.  Both agreed to testify against Herrera.  Faced with her co-defendants testimony against her, Herrera then agreed to plead guilty to Murder, Theft, Tampering With Evidence, and Abuse of a Corpse and serve 25 years in prison.

Source: Kenton Co. Commonwealth's Attorney Office

Photo: (From top to bottom) Tiffany Herrerra, Austin Eash, Quinton Kolenda/Kenton Co. Jail