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Slaying suspect faces more charges

March 20, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Tonya Teresa Thomas, who is charged with murder in the death of a Berkeley Springs, W.Va., businessman, was charged Thursday with traffic violations in a high-speed police chase through Jefferson County.

Thomas, 23, of Marseilles, Ill., was charged with two counts each of fleeing and eluding police, reckless driving, failure to stop for police, speeding and driving without an operator's license and one count of driving with an overly loud muffler.

Thomas and Christina Bess Richardson, 23, of Mendora, Ill., a passenger in the car, have been charged with the murder of Theodore "Ted" Compton, a Berkeley Springs, W.Va., businessman who was found stabbed to death in his home early Tuesday, according to West Virginia State Police.


Shortly before midnight Monday, Shepherdstown Police Officer Billy Carper spotted the Mustang in Shepherdstown, W.Va., after hearing an overly loud muffler, according to charging documents.

The officer pulled behind the car and signaled for the driver to stop, charging documents said.

Instead, the car took off down W.Va. 480, charging documents said.

Carper followed and radioed a description of the vehicle.

However, he was unable to keep up with the car in his cruiser, charging documents said. At a convenience store, a person told him the car turned onto W.Va. 9, charging documents said.

As the information was going over the radio, Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Roby saw the Mustang drive past him on W.Va. 9, charging documents said.

Roby said he recognized the car from the description and got behind the vehicle.

The driver went down the winding, two-lane highway, passing cars sometimes at speeds reaching 120 mph, Roby said.

The deputy said he followed behind, driving about 80 to 90 mph. He said he was able to keep up with the Mustang because the driver kept getting caught behind slower moving traffic.

Roby said he stayed only close enough to watch the car, radioed the car's location and waited for Berkeley County deputies to stop the Mustang.

However, as the driver attempted to get onto Interstate 81, she missed the curve on the ramp and ran up the embankment, Roby said.

Roby said he stopped his cruiser and ran up the hill to the woman, who had been stopped by a shoulder-high, barbed wire fence. The other woman, the passenger in the car, ran down the fence line until Carper and other police officers arrived and caught her.

Roby said the driver struggled with him to get away as he attempted to handcuff her.

Police learned there were suspicious items in the car and around and they called for state police investigators, Roby said.

The items turned out to be bloody clothing, police said. The Mustang was traced back to Compton and when police went to his home they found him dead inside. An autopsy has determined that Compton was killed by knife wounds.

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