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W.Va. grand jury indicts man in girlfriend's death

September 24, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - A Martinsburg, W.Va., man was indicted Wednesday on a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the death of his girlfriend earlier this year, court records said.

A Jefferson County grand jury sitting in Charles Town handed up the charge against Vernon Henderson Dunlap Sr.

Dunlap's girlfriend, Jennifer Leigh Dodson, was found dead in her apartment at the Willow Spring Farm apartment complex off Prospect Avenue on Feb. 19.

Sgt. Sam Harmon of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department testified during a preliminary hearing in March that Dodson suffered an 8-inch cut to her throat.

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Dodson, who bled to death, was found lying on a living room floor, her body partially covered by a bed comforter, investigators testified during the hearing.

The same day Dodson's body was discovered, Dunlap was found slumped over the wheel of his pickup truck, which was locked and parked at the Princess Street boat ramp in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Dunlap contracted pneumonia and was treated at City Hospital before he was charged in Dodson's death.

Dunlap was being held without bond in the Eastern Regional Jail.

The case against Dunlap has been an emotional one. On the first day of Dunlap's preliminary hearing, Dunlap's daughter cried on the stand when she recounted going to see her father at City Hospital after Dodson was found dead.

Tabitha Sanders said she told her father he could spend his life in prison.

Sanders said her father responded by saying, "I know."

"He said, 'I can't believe I did it,'" Sanders said.

After the hearing, Magistrate William Senseney ruled there was probable cause to send Dunlap's case to a grand jury.

Dunlap is expected to be arraigned on the first-degree murder charge on Oct. 4, court officials said.

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