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Three indicted for Neikirk murder

STAFF REPORT

advocate@amnews.com

STANFORD — A Lincoln County grand jury has handed up indictments of three people on charges related to the alleged murder of Lincoln County woman April Neikirk.

Otha G. Wesley, 45, has been indicted for murder, abuse of a corpse, tampering with physical evidence, kidnapping and being a persistent felony offender. Whitney D. Soard of Ferguson and a third person, former Pulaski County deputy jailer Sheila Keith, were indicted on charges of being complicit in the murder.

Soard and Keith were both indicted for criminal facilitation to murder and tampering with physical evidence. Soard was also indicted for abuse of a corpse, according to the Aug. 1 indictment. Keith was arrested Thursday, after the indictment was handed up.

Neikirk was first reported missing in May. Her body was found in a remote area of the county on June 5.

Authorities interviewed after Wesley’s arrest for the alleged murder stated he was an ex-boyfriend of Neikirk’s. He also was arrested for domestic abuse the same day Neikirk was reported missing, and deputies received tips Wesley may have been involved in her disappearance.

Wesley, of Somerset, was arrested on June 7; Soard was arrested on June 13.

According to arrest warrants for Wesley and Soard, Wesley was seen on or around April 26 “shoving, punching, dragging and kicking (Neikirk), causing serious injury all while the victim pleaded for her life.” Soard was allegedly at the residence when the alleged assault occurred and told Neikirk “that the assault would stop if the victim would stop talking,” according to her arrest warrant.

Kentucky State Police also allege Soard refused to contact law enforcement about the incident and made arrangements for the use of a vehicle to transport Neikirk’s body. Soard “attempted to conceal the death by disposing of her body” with Wesley, according to her arrest warrant.

On May 13, Keith was arrested and resigned her position as deputy jailer in Pulaski County, according to the Pulaski County Detention Center. She was charged at that time with first-degree possession of drug paraphernalia; first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (methamphetamine); trafficking in synthetic drugs; first-degree unlawful transaction with a minor; second-degree hindering prosecution or apprehension; and endangering the welfare of a minor.

Keith had worked at the detention center for almost three years. She was being held in the Lincoln County Detention Center Friday on a $200,000 cash bond. Wesley was being held on a $500,000 cash bond; Soard was being held on a $200,000 cash bond.