3rd man arrested in slaying

January 26, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

A third man wanted in the slaying of a Berkeley County, W.Va., man last year was arrested by police and U.S. marshals in Ocala, Fla., Sunday morning after he left a Lowe's store, West Virginia State Police said.

Christopher Mark Grady, 38, was arrested without incident by marshals and members of the Ocala Police Department at 10:10 a.m., said Sgt. E.D. Burnett.

Grady is wanted in the death of 93-year-old Delbert Rodgers, who was found tied up and beaten to death in his house along Airport Road near the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport on Jan. 5, 2003.


Arrest warrants charging Grady, address unknown; Kevin Richard Cornell, 41, of 121 Fairfax St., Martinsburg; and John Michael Dignazio, 30, address unknown, with first-degree murder were issued by Magistrate Harry Snow about two weeks ago.

Dignazio was being held in a jail in Frederick County, Va., when the warrants were issued and Cornell was caught last Wednesday in Forsyth County, N.C., Trooper J.C. Weaver said Sunday.

Weaver said he did not know the details surrounding Cornell's capture or the status of his extradition.

On Friday, state police received information that Grady was in Augusta, Ga., and was headed to Ocala, police said in a press release.

Information obtained from informants indicated that Grady knew about the warrants and was not going to turn himself in, the press release said.

Burnett then requested the assistance of the U.S. Marshal service. Marshals assist in several areas of law enforcement, including operation of a "fugitive unit," Burnett said Sunday.

Burnett praised the marshals for their help in apprehending Grady.

Grady will be incarcerated in Ocala and will await extradition proceedings as authorities attempt to bring him back to West Virginia, Burnett said.

If Grady waives extradition, he will be returned to West Virginia, Burnett said. If he fights extradition, the Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney's office will have to seek a governor's warrant to bring him back.

According to a two-page criminal complaint filed in Berkeley County Circuit Court with the arrest warrants, police began investigating the three men after a confidential informant, who was identified in court paperwork as "CI Star," came forward with information about the case.

After speaking with "Star," Weaver, Sgt. D.M. Olack and Trooper N.A. Harmon interviewed Dignazio several times over the next few months, police said.

Dignazio gave police a detailed statement of what he said happened at Rodgers' home, and his statement matched evidence found at the scene, police alleged.

Dignazio told police that Cornell knew Rodgers because he did a paving job for him. The three men planned two days before Rodgers was killed to go to Rodgers' home, tie him up and rob him, records allege.

All three men alternated between searching the home to try to find money and beating Rodgers, records allege. The three men left after they did not find any money, although Grady took Rodgers' wallet, records allege.

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