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Cops: Stabbing victim forced confrontation

April 27, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

BAKERTON, W.Va. - An 18-year-old man who police say stabbed his stepfather last Thursday after the stepfather broke into his house tried to secure himself in an upstairs room before the stabbing occurred, a West Virginia State Police trooper said Monday.

When Nathan McDowell heard someone breaking in, he dialed 911 for help, Trooper Richard Shockey said. Investigators believe McDowell tried to secure himself in the room by holding his foot behind a door.

Shockey said he believes McDowell's stepfather, Robert Scott Derr, kicked the door in.

There was a brief altercation between Derr and McDowell, and Derr was stabbed, police said.

When rescue crews arrived at the house at the intersection of Carter Avenue and Bakerton Road, Derr was moved downstairs to a waiting ambulance, Shockey said. Derr, 44, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., died in the ambulance before he could be transported to a hospital, Shockey said.

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Derr suffered a stab wound to the chest, and his left lung was pierced as a result of the blow, Shockey said. He died from a loss of blood due to stab wounds, and it is believed the wound to the lung caused the most blood loss, Shockey said.

Police have declined to say how many times Derr was stabbed.

Shockey said he learned about Derr's wounds while he was present at the autopsy performed at a state medical examiner's office in South Charleston, W.Va., on Friday.

Derr's wife, Florence, had taken out two emergency family protective orders against her husband, one on June 11, 2002, and a second on July 31, 2002. A final 180-day order was issued by a Family lawmaster on Oct. 28, 2003. It would have expired May 3, records show.

According to computerized records in Jefferson County Magistrate Court, the protective orders meant Derr was not allowed to visit his wife's home or job site. He also was not allowed to have any contact with her, records show.

At 2:38 p.m. last Thursday, troopers and Jefferson County Sheriff's Department deputies went to the house after McDowell called for help, Shockey said. McDowell was the only person home at the time, police said.

Troopers believe Derr broke into the house through a first-floor window, then went upstairs and confronted McDowell, Shockey said.

Shockey said Monday he is convinced Derr went to the house with the intention of doing harm to McDowell. Police have declined to say whether they believe McDowell acted in self-defense.

A state police sergeant said last week no charges have been filed and none is likely to be filed in the near future.

Investigators were told by the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's office to complete their investigation and that prosecutors will present a report to a grand jury, Sgt. David Forman said.

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