High profile quadruple murder again accentuates severity of problem

Authorities say that a drug debt led to the murder of four people, including two innocent young children, last month in Nicholas County.

The case has grabbed headlines, not only due to the fact that there were four murders, but also for the apparent brutality of the heinous acts.

Shocking, yet not surprising. All in the name of drugs.

James Belknap has been arrested and charged. While not convicted of these crimes, it’s not Belknap’s first rodeo in the drug arena, nor is it the first time he has been charged with murder.

A cocaine deal he and his father Kenneth conspired on in July 2005 went bad and Richard Parnell ended up dead during a dispute. Kenneth eventually pleaded guilty to shooting and then burning Parnell’s body. Police said James aided his father in the burning.

In 2007, James pleaded guilty to delivery of cocaine in connection with the Parnell case and was sentenced to one year in prison. The murder count was dismissed.

For those out there who think that we can just use treatment and rehabilitation to handle drug cases, here is the perfect example of what happens when we aren’t tough enough on some people.

We understand there is a fine line that has to be walked during the investigation, prosecution and sentencing phases, but this guy obviously has had a problem with drugs and violence. Now, four more people are gone.

And unfortunately, at least one of the victims in this scenario also had a high level of culpability in this tragedy. Steven Hendrix was reportedly seeking out Belknap to collect a drug debt.

Drugs, the abuse, the illegal trafficking, the dark side of the scourge rears up once again.

We mourn these deaths, especially those two children, and hope the event itself also serves to again heighten the awareness of this plague and the need for us to take back control of our society.


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