YOU ARE HERE: HeraldMail HomeCollectionsWva

W.Va. slaying case goes to grand jury

March 26, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Emotions ran high Tuesday afternoon during hearings for two Illinois women charged in last week's stabbing death of Morgan County, W.Va., businessman Harry Theodore "Ted" Compton.

Following preliminary hearings for Tonya Teresa Thomas, 23, and Christina Bess Richardson, 23, Morgan County Magistrate Bonnie Riffle ruled there was probable cause to send the two cases to a Morgan County grand jury.

Thomas and Richardson were charged with murder after police found Compton, 54, stabbed to death in his Merrywoods subdivision home on March 18, police said.


About 45 of Compton's friends and family members attended the hearings.

After the hearings, members of the group gathered outside the Morgan County Courthouse to watch the two women being led into an Eastern Regional Jail car.

One woman yelled as the women were getting into the car and one of Compton's daughters, Trena Youngblood, taunted the women as the car drove away.

Youngblood followed the car as it left the parking lot, screaming at Thomas, of Marseilles, Ill., and Richardson, of Mendora, Ill.

"That's totally uncalled for," said West Virginia State Police Trooper Brian Bean, who had testified during the hearing. "We don't encourage that behavior."

Thomas and Richardson showed little reaction to events surrounding the hearings. Both sat quietly during testimony in their hearings.

Compton, former owner of T.H. Compton Trucking in Berkeley Springs, met Thomas and Richardson in Florida, and had invited the women to Morgan County, police said previously. Thomas and Richardson had been staying at the Berkeley Springs Motel and Compton had been paying for their room, State Police Sgt. Deke Walker had said.

In his testimony Tuesday, Bean painted a picture of the bloody scene police found when they went to Compton's house.

A man gave two women a ride to Compton's house at about 10 p.m. on March 17, Bean said on the stand. Thomas wanted to go to the house for money, he testified.

An argument ensued and Compton was stabbed five times, according to Bean and other officials. Bean testified that Richardson told police she held Compton while he was stabbed.

A kitchen knife with blood and hair on it was found in the kitchen sink, Bean testified.

Compton had been on a couch in the living room, and police found a trail of blood from the couch to an area between the dining room and living room where Compton's body was found, Bean said.

Bloody footprints were found in the house and a number of telephones had been disconnected, Bean said.

The women left Compton's house in his car, court records said. A red 1997 Ford Mustang belonging to Compton was later spotted in Shepherdstown just before midnight on March 17. 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, police said.

Two young women in the car led police on a high-speed chase that reached speeds of 120 mph on W.Va. 9, police said. In Martinsburg, the car ran up an embankment and stopped, police said.

Both women were apprehended, and police noticed that one of the suspects had a plastic bag containing bloody clothing, police said.

Misty Hampe, one of Compton's four daughters, said the family wants to stay together through the proceedings for the sake of Compton's grandchildren.

"It's hard for children to pick up the newspaper and read about their grandfather's murder," said Hampe, who lives in Livingston, Mont.

"He did a lot for the community," said Larry Hawkins, a friend of Compton's.

Before falling on hard times in the early 1990s, Compton's trucking company operated 125 trucks and did a lot of work hauling sand for the U.S. Silica plant in Berkeley Springs.

Youngblood said it was unclear how her father met Thomas and Richardson. She said her father was in the process of buying a winter home in Daytona Beach, Fla., and had been back home for about two weeks when the slaying occurred.

The Herald-Mail Articles