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W.Va. woman charged in death of grandfather

January 13, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

GERRARDSTOWN, W.VA. - A woman was charged with premeditated murder Wednesday amid police allegations that she and a man choked her grandfather, wrapped his body in blankets and garbage bags and then buried it in a shallow grave near Gerrardstown, according to records filed Wednesday night in Berkeley County Magistrate Court.

Mary Amor Crawford, 33, of 318 Randolph St. in Martinsburg, was arraigned Wednesday night by Magistrate JoAnn Overington and was being held without bail in Eastern Regional Jail.

A 29-year-old Martinsburg, W.Va., man also was being held without bail after he was arraigned on unrelated fugitive warrants from Virginia.

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The body of the victim, Henry Ramirez, was found buried in a shallow grave Tuesday afternoon near Jenkins Road, off Buck Hill Road between Gerrardstown and Shanghai, W.Va., in the southwestern area of the county, West Virginia State Police Sgt. Dean Olack said.

Olack said he did not know Ramirez's exact age, but described him as being elderly.

The body was found after two residents, who believed something suspicious might have happened, found what looked like a possible grave site. They "disturbed" the earth enough to realize a body was buried there, Olack said.

Police alleged that Ramirez was choked after he and the 29-year-old man became involved in a verbal altercation in Louisiana.

After he was choked and, "having at the very least lost consciousness," Ramirez was wrapped in blankets and garbage bags and placed in the back of a Budget rental truck, court records state.

"Mr. Ramirez was then transported ... back to West Virginia from Louisiana and Mr. Ramirez's ultimate death may have occurred within Berkeley County," police said.

Olack said the grave site, which was about 50 feet off the road and concealed by brush, was no more than 2 feet deep.

An autopsy was performed on Ramirez's body Wednesday afternoon at the state medical examiner's office in Charleston. The final autopsy results have not been determined, Olack said.

Jenkins Road is the main road in a new housing development, which consists of a few large, new houses sparsely spread out along hilly gravel roads. The community has numerous wooded areas and a small creek runs through part of it.

Conviction on a charge of murder is punishable by up to life in prison. West Virginia does not have the death penalty.

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