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Woman's decomposed body found in W.Va.

August 11, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The badly decomposed body of a woman who may have been beaten and sexually assaulted was found in a wooded area off Greensburg Road east of Martinsburg Tuesday night, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said Wednesday.

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The body was found in a partially developed subdivision known as Greystone on the Opequon, according to a homeowner in the development.

The homeowner, who did not want to be identified, said he called 911 after another homeowner told him Wednesday night that he spotted the body while walking in the subdivision.

The person who found the body became suspicious when he saw a pair of shoes along the road, said Games-Neely.

When the man looked down in a low spot along the road, he saw the body, said Games-Neely.

It appears the woman suffered a "blunt force trauma" to the head, she said.

The body was "placed in a position where sexual assault appears to be a possibility," Games-Neely said, but would not elaborate. She said the body was not clothed from the waist down.

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Games-Neely said the woman's death would be investigated as a homicide unless results of the police investigation indicate otherwise.

The injuries to the woman "are clearly not self-inflicted," said Games-Neely.

Greystone on the Opequon is a 1,200-acre development off Greensburg Road, which turns off W.Va. 45 east of Martinsburg.

The development features large, attractive homes near Opequon Creek, although only 20 have been built in the development. The rest of the subdivision is wooded area.

The body was found at the end of Christian Tabler Drive where no houses have been built. A road to the right of where the body was found goes down to Opequon Creek and a dirt road to the left leads toward W.Va. 45.

West Virginia State Police, who are investigating the death, stayed on the scene with the body through the early morning hours Wednesday collecting evidence, said Games-Neely.

The body was moved from the scene early Wednesday and taken to the state Medical Examiner's office in Charleston for an autopsy, which investigators hope will help them identify the body.

Because of the body's advanced state of decomposition, information such as dental records may be needed to make a positive identification, said Games-Neely.

Identification of the woman could take a long time considering the state of decomposition, said Games-Neely, who said investigators found no identification on the woman and were unable to determine her race.

"These are very difficult to do. This person could remain a Jane Doe for a very long period of time," Games-Neely said.

It appears that no police agencies in the Eastern Panhandle have a missing persons report for an adult female, said Games-Neely. Investigators will have to determine if any police agencies outside the region have any missing person cases.

"We're not even sure this person is local," said Games-Neely.

State police referred all questions on the investigation to Games-Neely.

It is the second badly decomposed body to be found in the Eastern Panhandle since July 25, although it is too early to say whether the cases could be related, said Games-Neely.

The body of Kimberly Dawn Alexander was found in a field along U.S. 340 near Cave Road just south of Charles Town, W.Va.

Alexander, 32, of 200 N. Cameron St., in Winchester, Va., disappeared June 12 after heading to work at a Wendy's restaurant on Berryville Avenue in Winchester.

State Police are treating Alexander's death as a homicide unless results of a police probe indicate otherwise.

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