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Uncle Guilty of Murdering Nephew, Woman in Elsmere

A man was convicted this week of killing an Elsmere couple.

Charles Elmer Eapmon, 55, was found guilty by a Kenton County jury of murdering his nephew, Doug Eapmon, and Carolynn Tomlinson, while the pair was asleep in their Elsmere home.

The jury deliberated for about five hours at the conclusion of the first trial in the county since COVID-19 closed the courthouse in November. Eapmon was found guilty on two counts of murder and one count of tampering with evidence.

The jury recommended a life sentence.

On April 16, 2016, Elsmere Police responded to a Doug and Carolynn's residence on Merravay Drive after the couple's children found their lifeless bodies in a downstairs bedroom.

Investigators determined that the couple was executed by gunshot as they slept in bed.

The children were unharmed and did not wake up at the time of the shooting.

A safe hidden near the bedroom was missing but the house was otherwise undisturbed. No arrests we made for over three years.

In November 2019, a break in the case came after prosecutors and a detective from the Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Office flew to Tucson, Arizona to meet with Doug Eapmon's cousin, James Eapmon, who is Charles Eapmon's nephew. In December 2019, the Kenton County Grand Jury indicted Charles Eapmon and James Eapmon for two counts of murder and one count of tampering with evidence.

COVID-19 shutdowns of Kentucky's courthouses delayed the trial multiple times.

After the Kentucky Supreme Court issued an order opening courts for jury trials effective May 1, the case was called for trial before Kenton Circuit Judge Patricia Summe on May 4.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorneys Casey Burns and Corey Plybon presented evidence on behalf of the Commonwealth.

The jury heard testimony from now-retired Elsmere Police Detective Tony Embry, Commonwealth's Detective Nick Klaiss, Carolynn's now-16-year old daughter who found the bodies, and several individuals who testified that Charles had admitted his involvement in the killings.

The primary witness for the Commonwealth, however, was Charles's nephew and co-defendant, James Eapmon, who pled guilty to facilitation of murder and tampering with evidence on the condition that he testify. James Eapmon told jurors "Uncle Charlie" killed Doug because he was tired of Doug "running his life" via the family's drug dealing business.

Carolynn was killed to prevent her from being a witness to Doug's murder.

At the conclusion of the five-day trial, stretched across two weeks, the jury deliberated for approximately five hours before finding Charles Eapmon guilty on all charges. The same jury heard testimony in the sentencing phase of the trial about Charles's record of five prior felonies spread over twenty years, including a prior conviction for facilitation of murder and other crimes for which he spent over a decade in prison.

He will appear before Judge Summe again for formal, final sentencing at a date to be determined in June. James Eapmon is also scheduled for final sentencing next month but is still serving a life sentence in federal prison for an unrelated conviction for trafficking methamphetamine.

"I couldn't be prouder of the work it took to get justice for Carolynn and Doug, but I wish it had come a lot sooner," Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders said. 

Sanders said that most cases get solved a lot faster but a "perfect storm" of delays, including uncooperative witnesses, unexpected deaths, and police retirements, slowed the investigation.

"I also appreciate the service and sacrifice of the jurors and courthouse workers without whom this trial would not have been possible," said Sanders. "A life sentence is very appropriate because Uncle Charlie is a dangerous man and the world is a safer place with him behind bars."

-Staff report