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Slaying suspect gives up

January 26, 2001

Slaying suspect gives up



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


With the second suspect in custody in the Dec. 5 slaying of a Clear Spring man, details of the victim's last hours indicate he may have been killed for his money.

Thursday afternoon, Jeff Stanley showed up at Hagerstown attorney Tim Gordon's office at 24 Jonathan St. and turned himself in.

Hagerstown City Police were called and they took the 22-year-old West Virginia man, also known as Saul Joseph Stanley, into custody.

A Washington County District court commissioner denied bond for Stanley Thursday evening. On Friday, Judge Ralph France concurred.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Steve Kessell told France Friday that Stanley, a North Carolina native, has had contact with authorities in Virginia, Ohio and Frederick County, Md., the latter for contracting without a license.

In Stanley's statement of charges, the victim, William Leonard Messersmith, 76, of 12109 National Pike, spoke with his girlfriend on the telephone around 5 p.m. on Dec. 5, telling her there were people in his residence who needed to use the phone.

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The girlfriend then heard someone try to hang up the phone and when she said 'hello,' she heard a young man's voice, the charging document said.

Then Messersmith got back on the phone and told his girlfriend to call back later. When she called back a half hour later, there was no answer, the charging document said.

Two days later, the girlfriend drove to the house and found Messersmith dead.

Police said an autopsy revealed Messersmith died of blunt force trauma to the head and back. He had a broken neck and there was evidence of asphyxiation and that he had been bound.

The only phone in the residence had been torn from the wall. A fingerprint taken from that phone was later found to match Grady, police said.

Two days after Messersmith's body was found, police say they received an anonymous phone call mentioning street names of "Pig" and "Beetle" as the persons responsible for the murder.

Another caller told police on Dec. 10 that the two suspects had been bragging about killing an old man in Clear Spring and taking a large amount of money from him.

As the investigation widened, police learned that Messersmith had called the Washington County Sheriff's Department on Nov. 1 to complain about a subject who had performed an asphalt job on the roof of his mobile home.

The license tag number on that subject's vehicle came back to a Martinsburg, W.Va., man who turned out to be the stepfather of the second suspect, according to police

Liger Albert Grady, 18, is still in custody in Warren County, Va., Maryland State Police said Friday.

The two suspects were seen over the Christmas holiday in a Sheetz store in Martinsburg, W.Va., police said.

Prior to Grady's surrender, the men were believed to be hiding out in Berkeley County, West Virginia where they both have relatives, police said.

Both Stanley and Grady are charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, robbery, false imprisonment, felony theft and first-degree assault charges.

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