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W.Va brothers charged in crime spree

February 14, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Two Eastern Panhandle men charged in Arkansas with murder, rape and kidnapping are now being accused in a string of other crimes, including theft and impersonating FBI agents, authorities said Thursday.

Alan Chauncey, 28, of Ranson, W.Va., and Richard Francis Barr, 20, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., were arrested in connection with the rapes of two sisters in Conway, Ark., and the slitting of their mother's throat. The men were identified by police as half-brothers.

The women's mother was initially in critical condition, but on Thursday the hospital would not release information about her.

The men were charged Tuesday with kidnapping and rape. They were ordered held without bond in a Tuesday court hearing.

They subsequently were charged with capital murder in connection with the shooting death of a trucker at a rest stop on Jan. 30.

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An arraignment scheduled for Thursday was postponed until Friday because of heavy snow in the region, Conway County Sheriff Mark Flowers said.

West Virginia State Police Sgt. Deke Walker, commander of the Berkeley Springs detachment, said his department arrested Barr in 1994 on a charge of a breaking and entering at a motorcycle shop near Berkeley Springs.

But Walker said he believed Barr had the potential to become a productive member of society, and Walker had hoped Barr's arrest would help put him on the right track.

"But apparently it didn't," Walker said Thursday. "I was willing to work with him."

Linda McGraw, a counselor at Berkeley Springs High School where Barr once was a student, said Barr was always polite, and she believed he had the potential for a bright future.

But Barr had personal problems, said McGraw. She would not discuss what those problems might have been.

When Barr was in school, McGraw said, he was enrolled in the PASS program, in which students are paired with adult volunteers to help them with a variety of problems, from homework difficulties to a lack of an adult role model.

Barr did not complete high school, McGraw said.

"I remember many situations with that young man," McGraw said.

Some Morgan County officials knew of Chauncey, but details about his background were not available Thursday.

The attack made headlines Wednesday in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, a statewide newspaper, and has rattled residents in Conway because they are not used to such violent crime, police said.

Authorities were trying to determine whether the men had any involvement in at least three killings in Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, a rape in Memphis, Tenn., and an attempted abduction Sunday night of a Russellville woman from a Wal-Mart store parking lot in Russellville.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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