Conniving Kentucky Man Convinces New Girlfriend To Help Him Cover Up 2 "Brutal" Murders
Dale Moneypenny's crime spree started with a fire and ended with two murders and a nationwide manhunt.
A dangerous and destructive whirlwind romance ended in the brutal murders of two men. What started as a house fire led to Louisville, Kentucky detectives and prosecutors putting Jennifer Smith and Dale Moneypenny behind bars for the deaths of Charles “Eddie” Poynter and Blaine Thacker, as seen in the newest episode of Snapped: Killer Couples, airing on Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.
“It shows no remorse, no feelings,” Det. Jeff Wheeler, Ret. Louisville Metro Police, said on Snapped: Killer Couples. “People who are that cold and uncaring just unnerve you. They had no reason to die like that. Just ‘cause of Dale and Jennifer. Dale was the catalyst for the whole thing.”
A house fire sparks murder investigation in Kentucky
It took nearly 45 minutes for firefighters to extinguish a fire at a home on Harlan Avenue in Louisville on March 24, 2006. Crews were shocked to find a charred body in a bedroom of the home — with a knife handle embedded in the face of the victim.
“I had never seen a case like this in my career,” said Det. Leigh Maroni, Ret. Louisville Metro Police, on Snapped: Killer Couples. “It was a very brutal attack, very violent, very emotionally charged attack. Crimes of passion tend to be in an overkill manner.”
There was nothing to identify the victim. The only key piece of evidence: a notebook found in the ashes with the name “Jennifer Smith” in it.
As police and firefighters were investigating, a man named Daryl Benzel arrived and shared that he owned the home that’d burned. His tenant, 43-year-old Eddie Poynter, lived inside. It was eventually confirmed Poynter was the victim, and an autopsy showed Poynter died of multiple stab wounds to the face and torso.
As detectives talked to Poynter’s friends and family, they learned his best friend was named Blaine Thacker, and at one point the two had lived together.
“Eddie and Blaine were seen together all the time,” said Connie Leonard, a reporter with WAVE 3 News in Louisville, on Snapped: Killer Couples. “We heard that they had a relationship at one point possibly. But they were just friends more recently.”
When police tried to find Thacker to speak to him about his friend, they learned he was missing. But before they could track him down, a new tip opened up the investigation.
A witness tip changes Eddie Poynter murder investigation
A Louisville officer was canvassing the neighborhood around the burned home when a man drove up and asked if someone named Dale Moneypenny was the victim in the fire.
That witness told the officer he’d been to the residence the day before the fire, and believed Moneypenny lived in the home. He also described seeing Moneypenny “covered in blood” and with a woman who also had blood on her clothes.
“It was a huge break in the investigation because not only did he give us a name, he put [Moneypenny] at the crime scene with a female,” Maroni said. “Both of them had blood on their clothing — within hours of the fire being set.”
Police guessed the name “Jennifer Smith” in the notebook could be connected to Dale Moneypenny, so as they searched for him, they tracked Smith to her mother’s home in southern Indiana, where Smith’s mother confirmed Smith and Moneypenny were dating.
A bombshell revelation leads to second body in Moneypenny and Smith case
Smith’s mother convinced her daughter to speak to police, and Smith immediately shocked detectives when she revealed there was another body.
“She drops a bomb,” Maroni said. “She tells us she didn’t know that Dale was going to kill the other guy. And I said, ‘What other guy?’ And she said, ‘The guy that lived at the Mayflower apartments.' Immediately I said, ‘It’s Blaine Thacker.’”
When police went to Thacker’s apartment, they found him dead in his bed with multiple stab wounds to the chest and torso.
As they interviewed Smith further, she revealed more on her relationship with Moneypenny and the victims.
Smith and Moneypenny only knew each other about 10 days before the murders, after meeting through friends. They then ran into Poynter at a bar called Teddy Bears in Louisville, and he offered them a place to stay.
“Eddie took a big chance by inviting them into his home,” Andrew Moneypenny, Dale’s cousin, said on Snapped: Killer Couples. “Eddie didn’t know what he was in for. He didn’t know who Dale really was.”
Smith told police she and Moneypenny were having sex in Poynter’s bed when he walked in. Upset, he told them they had to leave — which set off Moneypenny.
“Jennifer said at that point, he grabbed a knife from the kitchen,” Maroni said. “Dale went in and approached Eddie, and an argument ensued ... he came out a few minutes later and he was covered in blood. And he said, ‘We gotta get out of here.’”
Smith admitted to police she gave Moneypenny a lighter to set the fire. After taking some valuables from the home, the two then fled to Thacker’s apartment. They had met him once previously, through Poynter. He also offered them a place to stay and food to eat, not knowing they’d just murdered his best friend.
Smith told police she woke up at 4:30 a.m. on the couch to another horrifying scene.
“Dale came out [of the bedroom], had blood all over his face, all over him,” she told police in interrogation video.
Fleeing once again, Smith said the couple went to Indiana to stay with friends, and then Moneypenny took off on his own. The only tip she had for police as to his whereabouts was that he’d talked about Florida.
The nationwide manhunt for Dale Moneypenny
Ultimately, Florida police arrested Moneypenny in a stolen vehicle on April 16, 2006.
Officers said he’d convinced a 75-year-old man he met in a bar in Daytona Beach to go to a hotel room with him. He allegedly pulled a knife on the man in the hotel room and robbed him of his wallet and keys, then stole his car. Hotel staff called police, who arrested Moneypenny.
“It was the same thing he was doing,” Wheeler said. “Preying upon the gay male population. That’s his way of doing it because he was able to manipulate people.”
Back in Louisville, Moneypenny confirmed Smith’s version of events to police, and admitted he killed Poynter when Poynter tried to kick the couple out of his home.
“If you’ve been around Dale long enough, you know his temper,” Andrew Moneypenny, Dale’s cousin, said. “Dale’s never really been one to accept the word ‘no.’ He don’t want to be told no.”
Asked why he later killed Thacker, Moneypenny said he was concerned Thacker would realize what had happened to Poynter.
He also admitted he and Smith stole valuables from each murder scene to pawn before Moneypenny took off.
“It was hard for me to leave, because I wanted to keep Jennifer with me, really,” Moneypenny said in police interrogation video. “She just seemed like she cared enough, no matter what I did, she wasn’t going to let nothing come between it, you know. I was getting attached to this girl.”
Smith and Moneypenny sentenced for their crimes
Smith pleaded guilty to complicity to commit murder and arson charges and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She served five years and was released in 2011 at the age of 29.
Moneypenny was charged with two counts of murder, first-degree arson, and robbery. Facing the death penalty, he took a plea deal and is in prison for life without the possibility of parole.
“Dale had no remorse for what he did,” Andrew Moneypenny said. “He’s exactly where he needs to be. ‘Cuz if he got out, there’s no way to say he’d never do it again.”