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Man pleads guilty in 2018 Neon murder

A man charged with killing a Neon man and disposing of the body by dumping it on Haymond Hill has pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter.

Clifford Jermaine Caudill, 41, of Neon, pleaded guilty to the reduced charge in Letcher Circuit Court on Tuesday. The plea agreement calls for 12 years in prison. He will be formally sentenced April 14 in Letcher Circuit Court.

Caudill was charged along with Diedra Ann Keathley, 53, of Pike County, and Clarence Russell “Squirt” Brown, 41, of Dry Fork, in the April 2018 murder of Ricky Allen Gibson. Keathley was sentenced last year to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to criminal complicity to abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence. Brown is charged with complicity to murder and complicity to tampering with physical evidence. His case is set for trial June 7.

According to police, the four were using methamphetamine at Caudill’s trailer on Welch Hollow at Neon, when the party took a turn for the worse. One of the three charged, police believe it was Caudill, became paranoid and accused Gibson of being a police informant. Police said Caudill told them he became scared, pulled a gun and shot Gibson in the head while all four were in the bathroom of the trailer smoking meth.

Police say Caudill, Brown and Keathley loaded Gibson’s body into the back of a car belonging to Keathley’s mother and hauled him to strip-mined area on Haymond Hill. Once there, they shoved the body over the hill, police said. Police determined the location where the body was dumped because the car was leaking large amounts of oil. When they found a puddle of oil, they looked over the hill and found Gibson’s partially decomposed body wrapped in sheets.

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