Episode Transcript 1: Tragedy at Paintsville Lake
The Mountain Mysteries
Tragedy at Paintsville Lake
The Mountain Mystery of April Pennington
Prom night. A night most younger people look forward to as a rite of passage that slowly begins adulthood. It’s usually a night filled with magic and memories that are never forgotten.
It was May 18, 1991, a Saturday. The flowers were in bloom and the birds sang as winter bounced to spring in the small Appalachian town of Paintsville, Kentucky… nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. As the night fell, so would heartbreak.
It had rained that day, about 2 tenths of an inch with temperatures that were around 70. A typical spring day in anywhere USA. This was the kind of town where nothing all that bad ever really happened…and the, a tragedy at Paintsville Lake that would leave so many wandering for so long…three decades as a matter of fact. Some say it was an accident, many others would say hell no, it was murder, plain and simple.
In the end though, two would be dead. April Renee Pennington, who only five days earlier had turned 16. And Timothy Stambaugh, he only 24 years young. What you about to hear may sound like a work of fiction woven in intricate webs of astounding inconsistencies and moments that scream that can’t be right. But oh…according to those you’ll hear from, it is right, and if it is…there is something wrong.
This is The Tragedy at Paintsville Lake, The Mountain Mystery of April Renee Pennington.
Losing someone we love is never easy, but when a child is loss, I honestly can’t begin to comprehend the level of grief and despair that must be associated with that. I can only imagine that the memories we cling to must be more important than ever.
0001 – Sharon on April’s birth
That’s Sharon Barron, April’s mom. We all love to talk about how special our kids are, because they are.
0002 – Who April Was
She grew up as many did, and had a sensitive side to personality, she loved people, especially those who were close to her, her family, her friends, and her family with a fierce passion. And sometimes, as is with most kids with sisters or brothers… well watch out! Although April loved in a very strong way, and when she became upset, it was on
0003- Tim on cutting her hair
That’s Timothy Pennington. A United States veteran who served in Afghanistan, and April’s younger brother. He was only 10 when she died.
April grew up strong and happy, surrounded by friends and family who loved her. She adored animals, and had a habit of standing up for people, rather they needed it or not. She was a devoted and passionate friend that left an indelible mark. Then…came the high school years at Johnson Central. A massive class 4 A school that was fed by each elementary school in Johnson county.
Ah high school, most of us remember it as a time in our lives that many would repeat, if we could, as long as we could take what we know now back with us. I think the truth is, is that while we were going through it, many of us thought that a breakup was the end of the world, big problems.
Of course, we learned down the road as adults what big problems really were as adults. But April Pennington, had problems, one that in particular that apparently were shaping up to be serious. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, lets back up, lets go back to a time of that first love. You know the kind, white picket fences, that first kiss, holding hands…you know, true love.
April had that experience and for the purpose of this interview, we’ll call him John. So, how was john with April when they first got together?
0005- Sharon on “John”
Sounds intense. But it wouldn’t be long before trouble sprang up in paradise. Coming up, Sharon remembers, the first time she felt something was wrong.
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April Renee Pennington was in love, in love with life, in love with people, one person had really stood out to her. But not everyone was in love with April.
0006-Sharon on the change in April and the curtains
We’ll call the girl making the threats Brenda. Made up name for her, oh but she’s very real indeed. She and April had words several times and according to the witness accounts had come to blows at least one time. So what was the reason for the animosity?
0007-Sharon on Brenda and April
They have a word for that, jealousy. When jealousy rears its ugly green head, things get difficult and people can get hurt. Monster under the bed, and monsters in the closets. When someone’s kids get threatened, it’s in our natures to do whatever it takes to protect them.
(0008-Sharon on looking for Brenda)
That night, April wouldn’t be the only person to lose her life. 24-year-old Timothy Stambaugh, from Sitka Kentucky, and was a friend of April’s. By all accounts Tim was a good guy. He worked hard, loved his music, and truck, and got along with most anyone who knew him. He was a little on the shy side, but a good guy none the less, and would help anyone that he could if the need arose.
You know how small towns are, if not…maybe you’ve heard. You see, living in a small town is great because if you’re not sure of what you’re doing…someone else is. Oh, the rumor mill is like the internet. It’s always going, someone somewhere is constantly stirring that pot. Now the gossip at the time was April had a thing with Timothy. The only thing they had was like that of an older brother and younger sister.
0009-Sharon talks about Tim
Remember how we told you about John? April’s love interest? Well now we’re going into a little more detail. People around the small town of Paintsville knew him fairly well, or they thought so anyway. His family was somewhat prominent in the small community and owned or operated several business interests at the time. John himself was said by some to be a nice guy, the guy next door that you’d like to hang out with. Other’s said that he had a dark twisted side that they wanted nothing to do with. Ah, remember, small towns and all. If they’re not talking about one, its another. The relationship between April and John did appear to be somewhat rocky at times but it was a first love kind of thing. Rocky? Maybe a little more than Rocky.
An email was sent to April’s mom Sharon about an extremely specific memory she had, while a freshman at Johnson Central. This girl shared a class with April. In the email, that was sent June 4th, 2010, she wrote (read the email). Now it’s not uncommon for couples to argue and bicker, but there was there more to this than that?
Many think that jealousy showed its head, and if John had enough, could he have done the unthinkable? Possibly. We’re told that John was never questioned about the events the night April died, and hasn’t been to this day.
Prom night 1991, it was May 18, light mist and rain fell as winter’s dying breath clung desperately to the hope of preventing springs arrival. It was a day that April looked forward to, a weekend with friends, prom, and memories that she thought would carry on with her through life. Her mother would never forget this day. It would be the last time she saw her daughter, alive.
0010-The last time Sharon saw April
Imagine if you will, or…if you can, if only just for a moment, that you’re at home. You believe that your child is out having the time of their life. You’re waiting on them to come home, expecting to hear all about how prom went, the music, the food, the dance, the formal wear that she was wearing, and how her date went and what they did with their friends. You smile remembering such memories yourself. You know that times like these rarely repeat themselves, that’s what makes them special. You look forward to what they’ll do with their lives, who they’ll help, how much they’ll accomplish. You see yourself in them, going on to make you proud…a part of you, that will live on. Then, you hear it. (knock) A knock on the door.
0011- Sharon gets the news
0012-Tim gets the news
How much can a person take before they reach a breaking point. Sharon has a neighbor drive her to the hospital, to make a positive identification.
0013-Sharon at the hospital and the shirt
During the interview that the documentary that the Foreman brother’s conducted, the woman we’re calling Brenda showed up at their request, and for the first time in 30 years, spoke about April, and answered who’s shirt that was that said, you sucked.
0014-Brenda answers whose shirt it is
You can see the entire documentary on you tube, it’s named Paintsville, The April Pennington Story.