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York sex assault suspect kills self after Alabama triple homicide

Written by Ted Czech and Gordon Rago/York Daily Record | Jul 13, 2017 4:29 AM
kenneth_dion_lever.jpg

Kenneth Dion Lever(Photo: Submitted)

Police in Alabama were searching for Kenneth Dion Lever, 52, who has a home in Lower Windsor Township, in connection with three shooting deaths.

(Undated) -- A man facing two cases of sexual assault of a child in York County killed himself Wednesday, hours after he was sought in the shooting deaths of his ex-wife and two relatives in Alabama, according to police.

Kenneth Dion Lever, 52, had been the subject of an all-day manhunt stretching from Alabama to Florida. He was said to be armed and dangerous, following the initial report of a shooting on Wednesday morning.

Earlier in the day, Gardendale, Alabama Police Chief Mike Walker had a message for Lever: "Turn yourself in. Because we're going to find you." 

Hours later, evening news reports stated that officers with the Escambia County Sheriff's Office were moving to arrest Lever near an interstate in Pensacola. He got out of his car and shot himself, police said. Escambia County is located in Florida. It borders Alabama and stretches south to Pensacola.

Walker had said they believed Lever was headed to Florida, his current home state.

"We were not surprised...he had already made statements before any of this that he was thinking about killing himself," Walker told AL.com.

Gardendale, Alabama Police Lt. Bryan Lynch identifies the suspect involved in a triple shooting in the Peachtree Crossings neighborhood. They are looking for Kenneth Dion Lever who has York County ties. Courtesy AL.com

Gardendale police identified the victims later on Wednesday: Lever's ex-wife, Dana, was 50 years old and of Gardendale. Two others, Bonnie Reeves Foshee, 65, and Don Austin Foshee, 69, both of Fultondale, were Dana's sister and brother-in-law.

Kenneth Lever once lived in Lower Windsor Township and still owned a home there, but township Police Chief Tim Caldwell said earlier Wednesday he had no reason to believe Lever was headed back to the area.

Lever was charged by township police on Sept. 28, 2015, and Oct. 13, 2015, in two separate sexual assault cases.

In both cases, Lever was charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, aggravated indecent assault of a child, indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age, corruption of minors, and dissemination of explicit sexual material of a minor.

Lever was placed in York County Prison on Oct. 12, 2015, in the first case on $100,000 bail and was bailed out the next day. He was again jailed on Oct. 15, 2015, on the second case, and posted an additional $100,000 and was released later the same day.

The cases were scheduled for jury trial in York County Court of Common Pleas on Sept. 11, according to online court dockets.

Keller recalls Dana Lever as a helpful neighbor. Dana helped on a couple occasions take care of Keller's elderly mother. One time, she peeled peaches with Keller as Keller was canning them.

She had different sentiments about Kenneth Lever.

"He wanted to be the center of attention. He thought he knew everything," Keller said.

She added, "It was his way or no way. He was in charge."

Shooting deaths

According to AL.com, Wednesday's Alabama shootings happened in the 4100 block of Willow Bend Drive in the Peachtree Crossings community shortly after 8 a.m. Police wouldn't comment on a motive, but said everyone involved was related and believed it stemmed from a domestic situation.

Police said Lever, armed with a handgun, fled into some nearby woods, although in the hours that followed, reports surfaced that he might have fled in a vehicle.

A perimeter was established, and police used a sheriff's tracking dog to search for him. 

Sexual assault cases

Lower Windsor's Chief Caldwell said Wednesday that before he charged Lever in the two local cases, Lever and his family had moved to Florida. Checking township records, Caldwell said Lever and his wife still owned the property in the township.

"I had a juvenile in 2015 report to the police department that previously in her life, she had been assaulted by this guy (Lever)," Caldwell said.

The first victim then led to a second juvenile victim, hence the two cases, Caldwell said.

The chief said the Levers moved to Florida in 2010, but Lever's wife left him in either late 2015 or early 2016.

"Last I knew, she had moved to Alabama to live with her family," Caldwell said.

He said that as recently as last month, Lever's wife called him to get an update on the pending sexual assault cases.

Alabama protection from abuse

Authorities issued a protection from abuse order in Jefferson County, Alabama, against Lever in December 2016, according to AL.com.

Lever's wife accused him of abusing her 11-year-old daughter during unsupervised visits. The girl, according to public records, had been seeing a therapist, and the therapist called the mother with concerns.

AL.com contributed to this story. It's part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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