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Police search for motive in man's slaying

January 14, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Investigators said Thursday that they are trying to determine what led to the death of man who was buried in a shallow grave near Gerrardstown, W.Va.

"We haven't really established it. Usually there's a motive to gain something," West Virginia State Police Sgt. Dean Olack said.

Mary Amor Crawford, 31, of 318 Randolph St., was charged Wednesday night with murder. She was being held in Eastern Regional Jail without bail. The victim was her grandfather.

A 29-year-old Martinsburg man also is being held in the jail on unrelated fugitive warrants from Virginia. Police have identified him as a suspect, but he had not been charged in connection with the death late Thursday.

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The victim, Henry Ramirez, 80, lived in Louisiana, where Crawford and the man had been staying, Olack said.

Police said that the 29-year-old man choked the victim after becoming involved in a "verbal altercation" with him.

"This chokehold resulted in the deceased having at the very least lost consciousness at which time the deceased was transported to the back of (a) Budget rental truck and later placed within bags/blankets. ..." police wrote in their criminal complaint.

Neither Crawford nor the man had a car, which is why they rented the truck, police said.

Ramirez's body was found in the shallow grave wrapped in blankets and stuffed into garbage bags, police said.

The body was found Tuesday by someone who had contact with the 29-year-old man and became suspicious of him, police said.

One remaining question is where and when Ramirez was killed. Officers are making contact with police in Louisiana to try to see if a crime scene exists there, Olack said.

Officers also are not sure exactly when Ramirez's body was buried, Olack said.

If police believe the death happened in Louisiana, charges of murder could be transferred to a jurisdiction there.

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