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Bonham Charged with Murder

October 8, 2015 - 11:57 AM

MOUNT VERNON – Knox County Prosecutor Chip McConville announced today that Travis Bonham has been charged with two counts of murder for purposely killing his mother, Sandra Stelk, and his girlfriend, Jaime Linn Barber. The Complaint was filed this morning in Mount Vernon Municipal Court by the lead investigator, Detective Lt. Craig Feeney of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.  According to the affidavit filed with the charges, Bonham confessed to shooting both women with a pistol while high on bath salts.  The shootings occurred on September 29 at Stelk’s residence on Coshocton Road outside Mount Vernon.

In addition to the murders, Bonham has been charged with theft of a firearm, a third degree felony, for removing the pistol, which belonged to Stelk, from the residence.  He also faces a charge of having a weapon under disability, also a third-degree felony.  Bonham has prior felony domestic violence convictions which prevent him from legally possessing a firearm.  Finally, Bonham has been charged with tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony, for destroying a cell phone he was carrying after the murders.  Law enforcement had been pinging the phone to attempt to find Bonham’s location.

Each murder count carries a firearm specification, which adds three years of mandatory prison time to the base sentence of 15 years to life on each murder count.  Theft of a firearm carries a maximum sentence of 36 months in prison, a sentence which is run consecutively with other prison sentences under Ohio law.  The evidence tampering and weapon under disability charges carry maximum sentences of 36 months.  According to Prosecutor McConville, if convicted of all charges and sentenced consecutively, Bonham faces a sentence of 45 years to life in prison.

McConville stated that the homicides were charged as murder because the facts of the case did not include the necessary aggravating factors to charge aggravated murder, which can be punished with the death penalty.  “Under Ohio law, to prove an aggravated murder charge, the State must prove that the killings were premeditated, or committed in conjunction with a list of other aggravating felonies,” he said.  “Based upon what has been learned during the investigation, those factors don’t exist in this case.  Bonham has stated that he was high on bath salts at the time of the killings.  This only underscores the importance of dealing with the drug problem in Knox County.”

According to McConville, a bond hearing on the new charges will be held tomorrow at 1 p.m. the Mount Vernon Municipal Court.  The case will then be prepared for presentation to a special session of the Knox County Grand Jury before the end of the month.

A copy of the criminal complain can be found below:

Arrest Warrant: