W.Va. slaying suspect's record detailed

April 04, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Clyde Lee Birdsall, who is a suspect in the slaying of his 57-year-old wife, has had several past arrests, according to court records.

Martinsburg Police conducted a criminal history check on Birdsall and discovered a May 17, 1973 burglary conviction in Arizona, according to U.S. District Court records.

The check into Birdsall's background also revealed an arrest on Nov. 20, 1968, for the charges of assault and battery, and two counts of assault with intent to murder, court records said.


It was not clear what the arrests, made by the Maryland State Police, were for.

A U.S. Magistrate now says Birdsall is a suspect in the slaying of his wife Erica E. Birdsall, whose nude body was found stuffed inside a sleeper sofa behind the H-Mart convenience store in the Martinsburg Plaza on March 7, according to court records.

Magistrate David Core mentioned Clyde Lee Birdsall as a suspect in his wife's slaying in an order filed in U.S. District Court March 26.

"He is a suspect in the murder of his wife, but has not been charged in connection with that crime at this time," Core wrote in the order.

Core's order dealt with the issue of whether Clyde Lee Birdsall should continue to be detained. Core ordered Birdsall to remain in jail. Birdsall is being held without bond in the Eastern Regional Jail near Martinsburg.

Core wrote that Birdsall lived in Berkeley County for only 18 months and had no family ties to the area and no apparent community ties.

"The defendant's disregard for the prohibition against possession (of) firearms and his alcoholism present what I view as a volatile and dangerous combination," Core wrote.

Although Birdsall has not been charged in his wife's death, he was held on an unrelated charge of possession of a firearm by a felon a week after his wife was found behind the Martinsburg Plaza, which is located along Winchester Avenue, according to police.

On March 15, police searched Birdsall's home and found two .22-caliber rifles and a .30-caliber rifle, according to court records.

Erica E. Birdsall, who may have been suffering from multiple sclerosis, was stabbed repeatedly in the chest and stomach, officials said. The couple lived in a house on Vivian Drive in the Camelot subdivision, located off Three Run Road near Inwood.

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