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W.Va. man charged in kidnapping

October 21, 1997

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Kearneysville, W.Va., man was indicted by a Berkeley County Circuit Court Grand Jury Tuesday in the kidnapping of a 7-year-old Inwood girl.

Leonard Austin Ellinger Jr., 32, of 129 Evergreen Drive, faces up to life in prison if convicted on the kidnapping charge, according to Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely. She said he will be arraigned on the charge before a trial judge early next month, when a trial date will be set.

On Monday, May 5, the girl went to bed at about 9:30 p.m. and sometime during the night a man entered the mobile home and took her away while she slept. The girl told investigators that she was taken to a remote area in western Jefferson County near the Opequon Creek.

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While in Jefferson County, the girl told investigators she was sexually assaulted. Ellinger's case has yet to go before the grand jury in that county, where state police were investigating the sexual assault allegation.

"We're probably going to take a look at it in January," Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Thompson said Tuesday. That's when the next grand jury meets in that county.

The man who kidnapped the girl dropped her off at about 7 a.m. May 6 on Industrial Park Road, where a passerby found her and called police. The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office said at the time of the incident that the mother was asleep when she was called and unaware that her daughter was missing.

Ellinger was arrested on May 7 at Dalb Inc. in Bardane, W.Va., where he worked. The victim was able to give them a description of a man with tattoos on each forearm and a scar on his chest that closely matched Ellinger's. She also gave them a description of the car, according to court records.

It was an anonymous call to police that led them to investigate Ellinger, according to court records. Police reports said he had argued with a girlfriend the night of the kidnapping and did not return to his home until after the victim was found.

Ellinger has been in the Eastern Regional Jail since his arrest.

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