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La. police issue murder warrants for W.Va. couple

January 19, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Police in Louisiana have issued arrest warrants charging a Martinsburg man and woman with second-degree murder in connection with the death of an 80-year-old man whose body was found buried in a shallow grave last week, a police officer there said Tuesday.

Col. Bob Garner, public information officer for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office outside of New Orleans, said the arrest warrants charge Mary Amor Crawford, 31, and Shawn Jason Cole, 29, with second-degree murder.

Extradition, the process of transferring the couple from West Virginia to Louisiana, is still being worked out, Garner said.

Cole and Crawford were charged in connection with the death of Henry Ramirez, 80, who was Crawford's grandfather. Police described Cole and Crawford as being boyfriend and girlfriend.

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Garner alleged that Ramirez was strangled after he refused to give the couple money. Ramirez's body was wrapped in a blanket and placed in the back of a Budget rental truck, Garner said.

Garner said the couple spent the night at a local motel before driving to West Virginia.

Once in West Virginia, the couple asked to borrow a shovel and a wheelbarrow from a resident in a wooded housing development off Buck Hill Road, Garner said. The said they needed the shovel "to bury something," he said.

After the shovel and wheelbarrow were returned, the person who had loaned them went to the burial site and found the body wrapped in blankets and garbage bags, Garner said.

Garner said that second-degree murder charges seemed more appropriate than first-degree murder charges because authorities believe Ramirez's death happened "in the heat of the moment" without premeditation.

Crawford was charged here with one count of murder, but Cole was being held on unrelated charges. Both were being held in Eastern Regional Jail without bail.

Crawford and Cole had been staying off and on with Ramirez. Neither had a car, which is why they rented the truck, police have said.

Investigators from Louisiana spent last Friday in Berkeley County, looking at the spot where Ramirez's body was found and reviewing statements and interviews given to police, Sgt. Dean Olack, of the West Virginia State Police, said.

Crawford and her boyfriend both spoke to police, investigators have said.

According to allegations in a criminal complaint filed last week against Crawford in Berkeley County Magistrate Court, Ramirez was choked after he and Cole became involved in a "verbal altercation."

Crawford was present when her grandfather was choked and "assisted with (the) process" of wrapping him in blankets and bags and putting his body in the back of the rental truck, court records allege.

Ramirez's body was found off Jenkins Road - a gravel road leading to a small, sparse housing development. Jenkins Road is off Buck Hill Road between the Berkeley County communities of Gerrardstown and Shanghai.

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