MORGANTOWN – A Butler County woman is under indictment on a murder charge based on allegations that she wrapped a belt around a man and stabbed him.
Samantha J. Stewart, 44, of Morgantown, is charged with murder, tampering with physical evidence and first-degree possession of a controlled substance.
Stewart is accused of killing Michael J. Embry, 57, whose body was found May 12 in his home at 2739 Caneyville Road. The indictment alleges he was killed May 8 or 9.
Stewart, who is the Butler County Jail under a $250,000 cash bond, is due to appear Aug. 10 in Butler Circuit Court for arraignment.
Kentucky State Police investigated Embry’s death.
Initially, Embry was considered a missing person when his family contacted law enforcement May 11.
At a preliminary hearing in May in Butler District Court, KSP Detective Shae Foley testified that KSP was contacted by the Butler County Sheriff’s Office to assist in the investigation.
Foley said family members and a KSP trooper spent a short amount of time in Embry’s residence May 11 without finding his body.
The body was found the next day in the bathroom, under a large pile of clothing and clutter that Stewart allegedly placed on top of him. Police were called back to the property May 12 by the owner, who reported a large number of flies gathering at the windows, Foley said.
Investigators spoke with a neighbor who reported last seeing Embry on May 8, when he and Stewart entered Embry’s residence.
Another neighbor, who Foley said relied on Embry’s residence for access to hot water, spoke with police about attempting to use the residence on the night of May 9, only to get no response when he knocked on the door.
“He knew an individual to be present because of the door being locked from the inside,” Foley said, adding that this neighbor knew Embry to secure his front door with a padlock.
The neighbor returned to the house the next day and reported being given brief access by Stewart, Foley said.
Foley testified that police learned the property owner directed Stewart to vacate the residence at some point, and she “bounced around to a few locations over the next few days” until she was located May 13 at a residence on Ky. 70, where she was detained.
Stewart was brought to KSP Post 3 in Bowling Green that day for an interview.
“She made no formal admission of guilt,” Foley said, and police obtained a warrant for her arrest.
Stewart was placed in the Butler County Jail and called police from there later that day to ask to speak with detectives.
Foley testified that he and another detective visited Stewart at the jail and interviewed her for about 21/2 hours.
“During the interview Ms. Stewart had confirmed the timeline that had been developed (by law enforcement) through speaking with members of the family, immediate neighbors and other individuals that had contact with (Stewart and Embry),” Foley said.
During the interview, Stewart gave her account of what happened in Embry’s home.
“Stewart stated that her and Mr. Embry had an altercation that ended in Mr. Embry having a belt placed around his neck and then being stabbed an unstated number of times by Ms. Stewart,” Foley said.
An autopsy determined Embry had been stabbed six times, but the wounds were “shallow in nature,” Foley said.
Asked by Stewart’s attorney at the preliminary hearing what caused the altercation, Foley testified that Stewart reported waking up to Embry on top of her.
“Unwanted sexual advances would be a polite way to put it,” Foley said.
The detective testified that Stewart told police she fought off Embry, and the two wrestled for a few moments before Embry ended up in a chair.
Stewart recalled wrapping a belt around Embry’s neck, pulling it taut and using a black-handled knife to stab him, Foley said.
“She said that she knows she didn’t let go of the belt. However, she does not recall how many times she stabbed him,” Foley said.
Asked about the nature of the relationship between Stewart and Embry, Foley said Stewart gave the impression that there had been a consensual sexual relationship prior to the incident in Embry’s home, and that law enforcement had knowledge that both people were involved with drugs.
“They had made statements about renovating Embry’s current home or acquiring a new home together,” Foley said. “I was under the impression they were in a relationship.”
Foley said he could not say with certainty whether Stewart and Embry were under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident, but he suspected that was the case.
– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.