More details are emerging in the case of an alleged murder-for-hire plot that unfolded in McCreary County this weekend but has roots here in Pulaski.
Timothy Prater, 30, of Somerset, was arrested Friday and charged with criminal conspiracy to commit murder, impersonating a peace officer, first-degree robbery, and unlawful imprisonment.
A published report this weekend said that the suspect was paid $1,500 to murder a Pine Knot woman, and was arrested after a report of an assault on the victim on Richard Stephens Road in McCreary County.
KSP reported that the victim was walking from her home to her vehicle when three men dressed in dark clothing attacked her. Neighbors of the victim went to check on her, and the three alleged attackers identified themselves as FBI agents, but refused to show any identification.
According to the McCreary County Record, the victim — Debbie Taylor was at home alone after her husband Larry had gone away as part of his trucking job. Officers learned that the victim has been accosted on the way to her car to go to work, handcuffed and stunned with a taser device.
Prater told police that he was paid to kill Taylor by Regina Stephens of Pine Knot — both employees of Guthrie’s River House in Burnside, according to the Record, where Prater was a bartender and Stephens a waitress.
Angelique Guthrie, owner of the restaurant, told the Commonwealth Journal this past weekend that Prater is no longer employed there.
Stephens was found to have likely killed herself Friday night after an arrest warrant had been obtained for her also, on conspiracy to commit murder charges. McCreary County Sheriff Gus Skinner informed the Record that Stephens’ car was found in her garage, but that authorities had to make entry into her home, where they found her dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
According to KSP Detective Billy Correll, that while the investigations into both Taylor’s assault and Stephens’ death are still open, “the public should not have any grounds for concern” relating to further occurrences.
The Record also reported that neither Correll nor Skinner could name the motive behind the alleged foiled murder plot, and that while Stephens apparently knew the Taylors, there was no known connection between Stephens and the men who accompanied Prater. Correll said that KSP has leads on the identities of the other two suspects, believed to be two black males in their 20s between 5-foot-9 and 6-feet tall.
Prater told Lexington TV station WKYT over the weekend that he was involved to “help” Taylor and “protect” her. He was quoted as saying, “I thought if I was in the hot seat, then no one else would have been considered to hurt her.”
Prater is lodged in the Laurel County Correctional Center.