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Beaten body identified

August 20, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The beaten body of a woman found in a Berkeley County subdivision has been identified as that of a 20-year-old Hedgesville, W.Va., woman.

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Vatressa Maria Miller died of blunt force trauma to the head sometime after she was last seen in Berkeley County on July 19, Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said.

The advanced state of decomposition of Miller's body made it difficult to determine her identity until Thursday afternoon, Games-Neely said.

Games-Neely would not say how Miller was identified and said that information is considered part of the open homicide investigation.

Miller is believed to have been single and was a longtime Berkeley County resident, Games-Neely said.

The woman's occupation and other information on Miller's background was being withheld by investigators, Games-Neely said.

"That information is all part of the investigation," Games-Neely said.

Family members of Miller were notified of her death Thursday afternoon but Games-Neely did not release the names of Miller's relatives.

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Miller's body was discovered Aug. 10 in a wooded area in the Greystone on the Opequon subdivision after a man walking through the area found a pair of shoes laying along Christian Tabler Drive.

The position of Miller's body and the absence of clothing from the waist down led to police to believe she may have been raped, Games-Neely said.

Tests were still being conducted to determine if Miller was sexually assaulted, Games-Neely said.

Investigators had been unable to link Miller's body with any missing persons reports in the area and the lack of clues to her identity prevented them from trying to match the body with dental records, fingerprints or DNA, officials had said.

Miller's body was still at the state medical examiner's office in Charleston, W.Va., and probably won't be released until next week, Games-Neely said.

Anyone who may have seen Miller on or after July 19 is asked to call the Eastern Panhandle Violent Crimes Task Force at 304-267-0025, Games-Neely said.

The discovery of Miller's body Aug. 10 came just two weeks after a Jefferson County man found a badly decomposed body in a field along U.S. 340 near Cave Road just south of Charles Town on July 25.

The body was identified as that of Kimberly Dawn Alexander, 32, of Winchester, Va.

Alexander, a married fast-food worker at a Wendy's restaurant in Winchester, was reported missing to the Winchester Police Department on June 12.

Police have said they do not believe the two deaths are linked and are still waiting for autopsy results to determine the cause of death.

"There's nothing new on the case," West Virginia State Police Trooper Richard Shockey said Thursday.

The case is being treated as a homicide until autopsy results indicate otherwise, police said.

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