W.Va. businessman found slain in home

March 19, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - What started as a high-speed pursuit through Jefferson and Berkeley counties Monday night led to the discovery of the body of a well-known Morgan County businessman who had been stabbed in his Berkeley Springs home, police said.

By Tuesday afternoon, two Illinois women had been charged with murder in the death of Harry Theodore Compton Jr., according to police and court records.

Tonya Teresa Thomas, 23, of 1017 Union St., Marseilles, Ill., and Christina Bess Richardson, of 61038 59th Road, Mendora Ill., were being held without bond Tuesday night in the Eastern Regional Jail near Martinsburg, police said.


In addition to the murder charges, Thomas has been charged with reckless driving and no operator's license and Richardson has been charged with fleeing and eluding, according to court records.

Although court records say money was taken from Compton's house, investigators said they are not sure about a motive for the slaying.

Police believe Compton met Thomas and Richardson recently in Florida, where he often vacationed. It is not clear whether Compton brought the women to the area or they came to the area on their own, said West Virginia State Police Sgt. Deke Walker.

Police said they became concerned about Compton after they discovered the red 1997 Ford Mustang convertible that they had been chasing Monday night belonged to the 54-year-old man. The car, being driven by two young women, was initially spotted in Shepherdstown, W.Va., just before midnight Monday, police said.

Police attempted to pull the car over because of a loud muffler and damage to the car. But the car sped away on W.Va. 480 toward Kearneysville, according to Jefferson County Sheriff William Senseney.

In Kearneysville, the car turned right and headed toward Martinsburg, leading police on a pursuit that reached speeds of 120 mph, said Jeffson County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Roby.

In Martinsburg, the car attempted to turn south on Interstate 81 at the Winchester Avenue interchange when it ran up an embankment and stopped, police said.

Both women in the car were quickly apprehended, and police noticed that one of the suspects had a plastic bag with bloody clothing in it, Walker said.

After police realized the Mustang belonged to Compton, a trooper was sent to check on Compton and found him dead inside his Merrywoods subdivision home, which is located south of Berkeley Springs along U.S. 522, according to West Virginia State Police Sgt. Jack Hockman. Compton was found lying on the floor between the living room and the dining room, said his daughter Trena Youngblood.

A large knife was found at the scene, telephone wires were cut and a telephone was disabled, court records said.

According to charging documents filed in Morgan County Magistrate Court, two women had gone to Compton's house, although it did not say when. One of the women attempted to restrain Compton while the other stabbed him, court records said.

The women then took money from the house and left in Compton's car, court records said.

Youngblood said she doesn't know how her father met Thomas and Richardson.

"I just hope they hold them for life for what they did to my father," Youngblood said.

Compton's neighbors said they did not notice anything out of the ordinary Monday night. Youngblood said the last time she talked to her father was about 10 p.m. Monday night. Youngblood said everything seemed to be OK, other than her father feeling a little tired.

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