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Two men found dead in Martinsburg hotel

July 08, 2005|by CANDICE BOSLEY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Police have launched a homicide investigation into the deaths of two men found in a Martinsburg motel room nearly a week ago, but believe both men died accidentally, according to investigators with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

Gary Williams, 39, of Virginia, and Steven Muth, 34, of Grapevine Road in Martinsburg, were found dead Saturday inside room No. 28 at the Krista Lite Motel, Sgt. Willie Johnson said.

"We're investigating it as a homicide, however, we suspect accidental overdose," Johnson said.

Several Fentanyl patches - a prescription medicine used to help alleviate severe pain - were found outside of the room, he said.

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Police said it's possible the men ingested the pain medicine orally, since both were "seen sucking on something," Johnson said.

The patches and wrappers were not found in the room.

"They were discarded in the driveway and the woods across from the room, like someone threw them away," Johnson said.

Muth and Williams had been fishing the night before they died, and were drinking beer into the early morning hours, police said.

Seven people were staying in the room. Around noon on Saturday, one of them went to the motel's front desk and told a clerk to call 911, police said.

Emergency medical personnel responded and pronounced both men dead at the scene, police said.

The men were found lying face-up on the floor. A person staying in the room told investigators that both men had volunteered to sleep on the floor so the others in the room could sleep on its two beds, Johnson said.

Both men's bodies were taken to the state medical examiner's office in Charleston, W.Va., but Johnson said he had not received the autopsy reports by Thursday afternoon.

This was not the first time police have been called to the Krista Lite Motel for an unattended death.

On Jan. 12, 2004, an 18-year-old man, Jashua Frocke, was found dead of a heroin overdose inside room No. 22.

A motel employee found Frocke's body after the other people who had been in the room with him fled. A woman who had provided the heroin to Frocke was found guilty of felony murder after a two-day trial last September.

The motel is on Apple Harvest Drive across from Foxcroft Avenue, just off Interstate 81's exit 12 for Martinsburg.

The lead investigator for the more recent deaths is Sgt. Gary Harmison, who was not working Thursday.

Berkeley County Sheriff Randy Smith said he did not release the information earlier because deputies have been busy handling a bevy of calls from the holiday weekend.

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