"Suspicious death" deemed case of deliberate homicide
POLSON - What was deemed a “suspicious death” at the beginning of summer is now being considered a case of rape and murder.
Melvin Madplume, Jr. made an initial appearance in District Court last Thursday. The 29-year-old Ronan man is being charged with felony counts of deliberate homicide and sexual intercourse without consent.
The affidavit filed by Lake County Attorney Mitch Young paints a gruesome picture of what happened the night of 28-year-old Laurence Kenmille’s death.
On May 26, court documents state Hot Springs Police Officer Stuart Smith responded to a report of an unconscious male at Wild Horse Hot Springs, a business in Lake County just outside of Hot Springs. When he arrived, Smith found Kenmille lying on the ground outside while an employee was attempting CPR. Smith felt for a pulse and found none. Madplume told Smith that Kenmille, his cousin, had fallen and hit his head. Kenmille was transported to Clark Fork Valley Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Smith had noticed fresh bruises on Kenmille’s legs and asked Madplume how the bruising occurred, which Madplume did not specifically explain. The officer asked Madplume to show him where the fall happened, so Madplume led him to one of the rooms and pointed out a spot on the floor where he said Kenmille had fallen and lied in a “pool of blood.” Smith did not see any blood on the floor.
Due to the circumstances surrounding the incident Lake County Sheriff’s deputies Mike Carlson and Ben Woods were called to investigate. Employees Derek and Dave Smith said the two men, along with Youstah Eneas, “had been at the business for several hours partying and drinking.”
Derek said the men arrived around 3 p.m.
“Kenmille was especially loud and boisterous,” Smith said, according to the affidavit.
The men left for about an hour, Smith stated, and when they returned Kenmille appeared to be extremely intoxicated and had to use the wall for support while walking to their room. After nearly 30 minutes, Eneas exited the room to vomit. While he periodically went back into the room to check on the other men, Derek stated Eneas stayed out front.
After an hour, Derek decided to check on the men himself. When he entered the room, he found Madplume and Kenmille in the tub. Kenmille was in the water up to his ears. Madplume’s left hand was on Kenmille’s shoulder and his right hand was patting Kenmille on the back.
Derek asked if everything was alright. Madplume nodded. Derek left and returned to the lobby. He assumed the man was ducking his friend’s head to sober him up, but “noted that the water in the tub looked darker than it should.”
Later, Eneas told Derek that Madplume wanted to speak to him. Derek went back to Room 4 and saw Kenmille leaned back in the tub with his mouth open and his eyes closed. Madplume asked Derek to help him get Kenmille out of the tub. While Derek and Madplume tried, Kenmille slipped and sank beneath the water with “no visible reaction.”
Once Kenmille was on the floor, Derek went for help. He returned with Eneas and Dave, and Eneas began CPR.
Madplume said Kenmille was “messing around and playing possum.” He acted as if there was no real problem. Court documents state he heard Kenmille speaking during this time, though no one else did.
The group tried to get Kenmille into Madplume’s car to transport him to a hospital, but Kenmille’s “legs would not bend.” They pulled him out of the car and continued CPR until the ambulance and police arrived.
While Deputy Woods was investigating Room 4, other deputies went in search of Madplume and Eneas. Madplume left the hot springs, but had been pulled over and arrested on warrants.
Meanwhile, Sanders County Coroner Kathy Harris went to observe Kenmille, a man who had supposedly died due to “a slip and fall.”
“Upon examining Kenmille’s body, Harris noted that Kenmille had multiple contusions to both the front and back of his head, as well as abrasions on his face and nose,” court documents state. “There was a large, deep gash on his right arm extending from the elbow to the wrist. There were multiple bruises on the front of both shins.”
Harris contacted Lake County Undersheriff Dan Yonkin. Her findings were not consistent with a single fall.
Yonkin went to the Sanders County Jail to interview Madplume.
Madplume stated that Kenmille had slipped on the stairs of the tub and hit his head, but was lucid and had no trouble forming sentences. Madplume said he left Kenmille alone in the room and it was Derek who found Kenmille on the floor of Room 4.
Yonkin asked if Kenmille could have drowned. Madplume was “adamant that there was no way that could have happened.”
Yonkin questioned Madplume about the discrepancies between his account and those of the other witnesses. Madplume said he sometimes gets blackouts, and suggested that some of Kenmille’s wounds could have happened before they got to the hot springs.
But Kenmille’s family said he didn’t have any of the injuries before he left for the hot springs. They advised Yonkin that Madplume had been involved in a similar incident the prior weekend, with a male court documents refer to as “J.B.”
Lake County Sheriff’s Detective Rick Lenz was told Madplume made sexual advances toward J.B. while drinking in a room at the hot springs, but J.B. rebuffed the advances and tried to leave. Madplume pushed him back into the tub and would not let him leave. J.B. got past Madplume and out of the room. J.B. told Lenz he was afraid Madplume was going to rape him.
J.B. didn’t report the incident to police because he was embarrassed about the event. J.B. didn’t tell anyone about what happened, but when he heard about Kenmille’s death he decided to tell Kenmille’s family about the incident.
At the state crime lab, Medical Examiner Willie Kemp noted that in addition to Kenmille’s other wounds Kenmille’s anus was dilated and showed two lacerations. An internal exam showed bruising in the rectum. Dr. Kemp stated the cause of death was drowning and the manner of death was “homicidal violence.”
Yonkin re-interviewed Madplume based on Dr. Kemp’s findings. Madplume said he did not have any sexual interest in Kenmille and “considered him to be a brother.” When asked about the incident with J.B., Madplume said he did not remember because he blacked out when he got drunk.
Madplume denied engaging in homosexual activity and said Kenmille was not a homosexual and would not have been interested in anal sex. Yonkin asked Madplume to submit to a DNA test. Madplume said he “was being railroaded” and ended the interview.
Madplume has yet to enter a plea in response to the charges against him. He will appear Thursday, Oct. 3 for arraignment in District Court and is currently being held without bond.
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