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Press Release

Boyd County Man Sentenced to Life for Violent Kidnapping

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Kentucky

ASHLAND, Ky. – A Catlettsburg, Ky., man, Jonathan Lee Smithers, 41, was sentenced to life in federal prison on Monday, before U.S. District Judge David Bunning, following his conviction for kidnapping.           

In his guilty plea agreement, Smithers admitted that, on May 1, 2022, he physically abused a victim with whom he had been in a romantic relationship. Then, under threat of force and using a firearm, he made the victim accompany him to a store, where he brandished the weapon, assaulted her with the weapon, and confined her inside the vehicle.  Smithers then drove her to the Flatwoods area.  After again confining her inside the vehicle, Smithers stopped the vehicle and forced her to exit.  Thereafter, still armed, he forced her to accompany him on foot, requiring her to climb fences, trespass on private property, and navigate random routes around the area for several hours.  She was eventually able to escape and hide from Smithers, and law enforcement found her collapsed at a gas station.

After the victim’s escape, Smithers remained in the area on foot.  Local law enforcement responded and Smithers was spotted coming out of the woods.  When approached by law enforcement, Smithers shot the responding officer in the throat. The wounded officer survived life-threatening injuries.

“Not only did he use a firearm to abduct, terrify, and assault someone he was in a relationship with, he shot and seriously wounded a law enforcement officer responding to the scene,” said Carlton S. Shier, IV, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.  “Fortunately, through the dedicated work of our law enforcement partners, he must now pay the costs of his astonishing conduct.  Protecting our communities from violence is one of our highest priorities and we assume this sentence will serve as an example of the considerable consequences that can face those who engage in such stark acts of violence.”

“Today’s sentence ensures that an incredibly violent offender has been removed from the streets and will no longer be a threat to society.  Mr. Smithers not only tragically kidnapped his trusted partner and led her on a series of terrorizing demands, but he then seriously wounded a local police officer,” said Special Agent in Charge Jodi Cohen of the FBI’s Louisville Field Office.  “FBI Louisville is grateful to our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners for their dedication to keeping our communities safe and will continue to work tirelessly to protect our citizens from violent criminals.”

United States Attorney Shier; Special Agent in Charge Cohen; Colonel Phillip Burnett, Commissioner of the Kentucky State Police; Chief Todd Kelley, Ashland Police Department; and Chief David Smith, Flatwoods Police Department, jointly announced the sentence.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, KSP, Ashland Police Department, and Flatwoods Police Department.  The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Roth.

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CONTACT: Gabrielle Dudgeon
PHONE: (859) 685-4887

Updated December 12, 2022

Violent Crime