From the Office of 11th Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard – Lee Anthony “Tony” Corley, a 39 year old Lexington County man, has been sentenced to Life in prison for the Murder of Alena Marie Kennedy, age 36, which occurred in April of 2017.
The sentence was imposed on Monday, by Judge Steven H. John, following a jury trial which began on Jan. 27.
The jury deliberated approximately one hour before returning guilty verdicts on all charges, which included Murder, Criminal Conspiracy, and Destruction of Human Remains. Corley is not eligible for parole under South Carolina law.
Alena Kennedy, a resident of Lexington County, was reported missing by her mother, Jeniece Kennedy, on May 25, 2017, aftershe was unable to reach her daughter by phone and Alena missed an important family function.
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department issued a media bulletin that was published across the Midlands region seeking information regarding Alena’s disappearance. On June 15, 2017, Sgt. Mike Gooding and Det. Sam Smith of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department received a tip regarding the involvement of Tony Corley in Alena’s disappearance. The following day, on June 16, 2017, Alena’s remains were recovered on a dirt road at Old Two Notch Road in Lexington County.
Her remains had been burned, encased in cement, and discarded in a trash can. Agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (S.L.E.D.) assisted the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department in processing the scene.
Detectives with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department located Corley again on June 21, 2017 to interview him. Corley maintained that Alena was alive and that she had moved to Florida. Corley admitted that Alena had been staying at his house during the month of April, but denied any knowledge of foul play.
Law enforcement continued to gather numerous leads and witness statements which confirmed Corley’s involvement in Alena’s disappearance and murder.
On June 23, 2017, Corley was arrested for Murder. Also arrested was a girlfriend of Corley’s, Harriet “Haley” Coleman, who admitted to law enforcement that she had assisted Corley after the murder in the destruction and burning of Alena’s body.
Law enforcement determined that Corley and Coleman moved Alena’s body from Corley’s residence at McDonald Avenue in South Congaree to another residence located on Cecil Lane in the Red Bank area.
There, at the Cecil Lane location, Corley proceeded to burn Alena’s body in the yard. Afterward, Corley transferred the burned remains of Alena Kennedy into a trash can where it was covered in approximately 200 pounds of cement.
The trash can containing Alena’s remains was discarded in a secluded, wooded area off Old Two Notch Road and discovered by a passerby on June 16.
During the week long trial, numerous witnesses testified from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, S.L.E.D., and those witnesses who heard Corley make admissions regarding the murder of Alena Kennedy.
Witnesses testified that Corley admitted to choking Alena while she was staying at his residence on McDonald Avenue in April of 2017.
The investigation was conducted by Det. Sam Smith and Sgt. Mike Gooding of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit.
“We appreciate the efforts of Sheriff Jay Koon and the entire Sheriff’s Department during the course of this investigation. They acted diligently in responding to the disappearance of Alena Kennedy, and tragically, to the Murder investigation that ensued. These officers demonstrated extraordinary commitment in seeing Alena’s killer brought to justice,” said Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes.
Family members of Alena Kennedy spoke at the sentencing hearing and shared memories of Alena as a loving daughter, sister, and mother.
Kennedy was a graduate of Lexington High School. Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes and Senior Assistant Solicitor Angela Garrick Martin prosecuted the case for the 11th Circuit Solicitor’s Office