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Authorities say violent acts in W.Va. counties 'unconnected'

September 18, 2000

Authorities say violent acts in W.Va. counties 'unconnected'



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W. Va. - Local law enforcement officers could point to no one reason Monday for the three apparent homicides and two shootings in Berkeley and Jefferson counties in the past two weeks.

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"They are totally unconnected acts of violence," said Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neeley. "It's unusual to see this many shootings in this period of time. We went for a whole year once without any. Then it just seems your turn is up. Sometimes, we just get a rash of these things."

The most recent death occurred late Saturday or early Sunday, according to police who were called to investigate the death of Vera Clark, 62, on Arden-Nolville Road, in Inwood, W.Va.

Police were called to Clark's home Sunday after a family member found her body.

"We're investigating it as a homicide," said State Police Sgt. T.C. Krisik of the West Virginia State Police. "We're developing suspects."

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On Sept. 13, Steven Ray Post was shot to death in Martinsburg.

Terry Lee Edwards Jr., of Martinsburg, has been charged with second-degree murder in Post's death. He was being held in the Eastern Regional Jail on $100,000 bond Monday night.

Post's preliminary hearing, which had been scheduled for Monday, was postponed for medical reasons involving his attorney.

State police in Jefferson County were investigating the death of Michael McCroskey, who was found Sept. 9 lying beside a road in Harpers Ferry. He went home and later died of internal injuries, but police said they were not certain what caused them.

"I wish I could tell you we knew (the cause) but we can't say with authority what that is," said Sgt. S.F. Paugh.

Alan Jerrell of Gore, Va., was listed in good condition in City Hospital in Martinsburg after being shot Saturday in an incident near Hedgesville, W.Va. Police have issued a warrant for Keith Herald of Martinsburg in connection with that shooting.

Business owner Brian Frazee was recovering from a shotgun blast to the chest and arms after a shooting Sept. 4 outside his Pikeside home.

"When things happen this much and that often, people start surmising, 'Is this happening all the time?'" said Capt. Kenneth LeMaster of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department. "I don't see any rhyme or reason to it logically. We get a rush of it, then it goes away and you get a dry spell."

The number of violent incidents may seem to be unusual, but violent crime in the two counties is not, said Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Thompson.

"If you look at West Virginia crime statistics, Berkeley County is second (per capita) in violent crime and Jefferson is 10th" out of 55 counties, he said. That hasn't changed in several years, he said.

Thompson said domestic assault and other kinds of violence have become commonplace.

"It's very strange," Paugh said. "It just seems to come in a flood. Then for six or eight weeks it will be quiet. I'm waiting for that six to eight weeks to arrive."

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