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Slain woman had drug conviction

August 21, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The death of the Hedgesville, W.Va., woman whose beaten body was found in a rural subdivision is not related to the woman's earlier drug conviction, according to the Berkeley County prosecutor.

"There's no connection with that crime in this case so far," Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said Friday.

Vatressa Maria Miller was released from the Eastern Regional Jail on June 22, about a month before she was last seen in Berkeley County, according to Games-Neely and Ed Rudloff, the jail's administrator.

Miller, 20, pleaded guilty on Oct. 7, 1998, to the misdemeanor charge of possession of an imitation substance with intent to deliver, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

After being sentenced to one year in jail, Miller was released early for good behavior and work credits, Rudloff said.

Miller received 60 days good time and worked 40 days as a trusty, mostly doing laundry, Rudloff said.

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

Miller's body was found Aug. 10 in a wooded area in the partially developed subdivision known as Greystone on the Opequon. The man who discovered the body became suspicious after finding a pair of shoes laying along Christian Tabler Drive as he was walking through the area.

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

Tests were to be conducted to determine whether Miller was sexually assaulted.

Miller originally was charged with delivery of crack cocaine and possession with intent to deliver crack cocaine on Oct. 1, according to Martinsburg City Police.

The plea agreement dismissed the delivery of crack cocaine charge and resulted in the felony possession charge being reduced to the misdemeanor charge, according to court records.

Games-Neely said she didn't know whether the substance was crack cocaine or an imitation substance. The plea agreement was worked out before the lab results were available, she said.

The substance tested positive for containing cocaine after police used a Narcotics Identification Kit, charging documents said.

Miller, then of 535 N. Queen St., Martinsburg, was arrested at 3:40 p.m. on Oct. 1 near the intersection of Wilson Street and Winchester Avenue after a confidential informant bought the drugs during a sting operation, Martinsburg City Police said.

After the woman was taken to the police station police found an additional baggie of crack cocaine in the police car's back seat that had not been there before, police said.

West Virginia State Police, who are investigating Miller's death as a homicide until autopsy results indicate otherwise, referred media calls about the case to Games-Neely.

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