South Congaree man convicted for murdering Lexington High graduate
A Lexington County man was sentenced to life in prison Monday for murder.
A Lexington County jury agreed Lee Anthony “Tony” Corley, 39, murdered Alena Marie Kennedy, 36.
The jury deliberated approximately 1 hour before finding him guilty of murder, criminal conspiracy and destruction of human remains.
Alena Kennedy, of Lexington County, was reported missing by her mother, Jeniece Kennedy, on May 25, 2017, after she was unable to reach her daughter by phone and Alena missed an important family function.
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. 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.
Detectives located Corley 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, 2017 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. His girlfriend, Harriet “Haley” Coleman, admitted 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. Corley proceeded to burn Alena’s body in the yard. 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, witnesses testified that Corley admitted to choking Alena while she was staying at his residence on McDonald Avenue in April, 2017.
“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.