Police search for motive in W.Va. slaying

January 23, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley County man who was charged with murder in the shooting death of his longtime friend Wednesday was recently sent to a West Virginia mental hospital and acted depressed, police and acquaintances of the suspect said Thursday.

Capt. Curtis Keller of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department said he did not know why 43-year-old Michael Andrew Neely was sent to the Sharpe Hospital in Weston.

An acquaintance of Neely's said he had been depressed since the death of his father and mother, and a construction accident two years ago in which he fell through a floor. Neely had been off work since the accident and was bound to a wheelchair, police said.


But Anette White said Neely had never acted in a threatening manner toward her husband, the victim, Terry Craig White, 45, of Inwood. "I don't know what went on," Anette White said. "I don't know what could have happened."

Police also were without a motive behind the shooting Wednesday, and Keller said investigators are continuing to gather information about the slaying.

Police found White lying in the kitchen floor of Neely's house at 1201 Winchester Ave. with a gunshot wound to the head Wednesday night.

Police believe White was shot with a .357-caliber Rossi handgun.

White was taken to City Hospital near Martinsburg where he was pronounced dead, Keller said.

Neely was at the house when deputies received the call about the shooting at 6:29 p.m., Keller said. The suspect was taken to the Sheriff's Department on South Queen Street for processing and was then arraigned before Berkeley County Magistrate Harold "Gene" Darlington, Keller said.

Darlington can not set bond in murder cases, so Neely was taken to the Eastern Regional Jail near Martinsburg, Keller said.

Neely and White knew each other for more than 20 years and worked together as masons, friends and police said.

But recently, Neely hardly left his house, and White often stopped in to check on his friend, acquaintances of the two said. Someone had fixed up a handicapped car for Neely to drive, but it had not been moved out of the back yard for some time, said Rick Collis, who went to school with Neely.

"He was pretty seclusive," said Collis, who manages Tri-State Rental Sales and Service, which is located beside Neely's house. Neely's house is located between Tri-State Rental and Arkay Auto Sales just south of Martinsburg along U.S. 11.

Both men were well known among people in the area and police. White was a tall, stocky man, weighing over 300 pounds and standing about 6 feet 2 inches. Police had charged him with several offenses over the years, including resisting arrest, battery and unlawful wounding that stemmed from a fight at a bar along U.S. 11 south in 1990 in which a man was seriously hurt, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

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