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Man found dead in his W.Va. home

West Virginia State Police say they are investigating the death of Delbert Rodgers, 93, as a homicide.

West Virginia State Police say they are investigating the death of Delbert Rodgers, 93, as a homicide.

January 07, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG - A 93-year-old man was found dead in his home along Airport Road south of Martinsburg Sunday night and West Virginia State Police said Monday they were investigating the death as a homicide.

Delbert Rodgers, who lived in a one-story home near the main terminal building at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport, was found dead in his house at about 11 p.m. Sunday, state police Sgt. Deke Walker said.

A caretaker discovered the body and called police, Walker said.

Rodgers' body was found in a room off the kitchen, Walker said. Walker said there were some "indicators" inside the house that point to homicide, but he declined to elaborate.

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"I don't have a motive. I don't have a cause of death. He did have some injuries to his head but we don't know if that's his cause of death or not," Walker said.

Rodgers' body was to be sent to the state Medical Examiner's Office in Morgantown, W.Va., for an autopsy that was expected to be conducted today, Walker said.

Walker declined to provide additional details, but said he might be able to elaborate on Rodgers' death as the investigation progresses.

Berkeley County Coroner David Brining said he responded to the house to inspect Rodgers' body. He would not comment on the case, saying he preferred that all information be released through the state police.

Rodgers lived in a red brick building with a combination of outbuildings in back of the home. The house is across from the West Virginia Molding and Millwork building, which is next door to the airport terminal. There are other houses in the area, but they are spaced out by large lots and scattered farmland.

Some family members were at the house Monday afternoon while a state police trooper was at the scene. The family members declined to talk about Rodgers or circumstances surrounding his death.

One of Rodgers' neighbors said he knew Rodgers for 18 years. The neighbor said he thought Rodgers lived alone.

The neighbor, who declined to give his name, said he used to see Rodgers outside doing chores, such as mowing the grass. "At that age, he seemed to be in pretty good health," the neighbor said.

Rodgers did not socialize a lot with neighbors, the man said.

"He was not the kind to go out and visit. He more or less stayed home to himself," the man said.

The neighbor said he removed snow from Rodgers' house during a snow storm about two weeks ago and that was the last time he spoke to him.

Aaron Drummond, another neighbor, said he was told that Rodgers used to farm on the property surrounding his home.

Drummond said he did not notice any suspicious activity around Rodgers' house or any problems in the neighborhood.

If Rodgers' death is determined to have been a homicide, it would be the second slaying in Berkeley County in recent days.

Last Wednesday, Charles W. Wingfield, 32, of Hagerstown, died after being shot once in the neck, police said. Wingfield's body was found next to his pickup truck in Capitol Heights, an apartment complex off Van Meter Road east of Martinsburg, police said.

Berkeley County Sheriff's Department investigators have said they believe the shooting of Wingfield may have stemmed from a robbery attempt.

Richard Lamont Pannell Jr., 24, of Martinsburg, has been charged with murder in connection with the shooting, as well as kidnapping. He was being held in the Eastern Regional Jail.

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