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3 charged in W.Va. woman's death

January 24, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Three people, including two Eastern Panhandle residents, were charged over the weekend in the death of a 20-year-old Hedgesville, W.Va., woman whose body was found in a wooded area last year.

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Andrew Charles "Sway" Jackson, 21, of 728 Winchester Ave. in Martinsburg, and Casey Michelle Holt, 25, of 94-T Apple Way in Inwood, W.Va., were charged in a federal indictment with killing Vatressa Maria Miller in furtherance of a continuing criminal enterprise. They were arrested over the weekend.

A third person charged in the indictment, Keyston J. "D-Man" West, 22, of Charlotte, N.C., was at large Monday.

All three, along with Kirk Leon Grantham, 22, of Avery Street in Martinsburg, were charged with drug offenses, according to Fawn Thomas, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Melvin W. Kahle Jr. Grantham, who was taken into custody, was not charged in Miller's death.

Jackson, Holt and Grantham were in federal custody Monday, but authorities would not say where they were being held.

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The 13-count indictment, which was handed down last week by a federal grand jury in Martinsburg, alleges that Jackson operated a crack cocaine ring from late 1995 to January.

Authorities alleged he used threats, violence and intimidation to coerce others to sell crack.

Kahle alleges Jackson, West and Holt killed Miller because they believed she was cooperating with police. Thomas would not say whether Miller was an informant for law enforcement authorities.

Local prosecutors said last year that they did not believe Miller's 1998 conviction on a charge of possession of an imitation substance with intent to deliver was related to her death.

Kahle alleges Jackson, West, Holt and a fourth, unnamed person took Miller from Holt's home to a secluded area of Berkeley County where she was assaulted and killed.

Miller's body was found 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.

Miller's death was attributed to a head injury. Prosecutors speculated at the time that Miller may have been raped.

Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said investigators have not yet been able to confirm whether Miller had been sexually assaulted.

"There is a state case separate and apart from the federal case," she said. "The state's investigation centers on the homicide itself."

Games-Neely said local investigators were awaiting the results of DNA and other laboratory tests. She said she expects the tests to be completed by the end of the month.

"We've been checking on that one on an almost daily basis," she said.

Jackson was charged with distributing cocaine in Martinsburg on four dates last year. He also was charged with using and carrying firearms in relation to drug trafficking on April 22, 1999.

Grantham was charged with distributing cocaine in Martinsburg on May 13, June 3 and two occasions on Sept. 24.

West was charged with two counts of distribution of cocaine in Martinsburg, on July 19 and Aug. 3.

A conviction on a federal charge of running a continuing criminal enterprise and committing murder carries a maximum sentence of death or life in prison.

Grantham and Holt are scheduled for their initial appearances today before U.S. Magistrate Judge James E. Seibert in Martinsburg.

Jackson's initial appearance is scheduled for Thursday.

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