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W.Va. teenager found slain

Police say the girl might have died by having an object tightly bound across her throat

Police say the girl might have died by having an object tightly bound across her throat

October 14, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

GERRARDSTOWN, W.VA. - A 14-year-old girl was found dead inside the basement of her Gerrardstown, W.Va., home early Thursday evening, according to Berkeley County Sheriff Randy Smith.

Capt. K.C. Bohrer of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department identified the girl as Mia Stewart. Bohrer said the victim might have died as a result of having an object tightly bound across her throat.

The girl's mother was tied up and beaten with a baseball bat, but was able to free herself and run to a neighboring home to call 911, Smith said.

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A man who fled on foot from the home when sheriff's deputies arrived was taken into police custody, Smith said.

"We found some items in the possession of the suspect that belonged to the victims' residence," Smith said.

Investigators remained at the home at 195 Reunion Corner Road off W.Va. 51 for several hours after the initial 911 call was received at 5:37 p.m.

Sgt. Willie Johnson, an investigator with the sheriff's department, said there were no signs of forced entry into the home.

He said early indications were that the girl was not sexually assaulted, but he said he could not comment further because of the ongoing investigation.

After darkness fell and lights inside the house were turned on, deputies could be seen walking around inside the home. An orange paper jack-o-lantern was visible inside one of the home's upstairs rooms, while horses and ponies grazed in a large fenced-in pasture in front of the house.

Smith said the girl's mother was taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va., for treatment of her injuries, which Smith said appeared to be serious.

A neighbor, who asked that her name not be printed, described herself as an artist who recently moved into the normally quiet neighborhood.

"I had just finished a fairy (piece of art) for the little girl," the woman said. "I watched her get off the school bus (today)."

She said she had knocked down apples from a tree in her yard and was getting ready to take them to the family for their horses when police cars started pulling up the home's long driveway.

Another neighbor said he knew the man who was taken into police custody. He said the man and his family had lived in a house across the road from the victims' home.

Outside of the victims' house, which was surrounded by yellow police tape, a deputy took photographs of the suspect from several angles before placing him into the back of a police cruiser.

Berkeley County Schools spokeswoman Jaimee Borger confirmed the girl was a ninth-grader at Musselman High School.

Crisis teams will be at the high school and Musselman Middle School today to talk with students and staff.

"It's my understanding the student was a well-known student," Borger said.

A 14-year-old girl was slain Thursday at 195 Reunion Corner Road off W.Va. 51.

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