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'She was our life'

Randy Stewart, the father of slain teen Miana Stewart, released a statement in which he and his wife thanked the community and t

Randy Stewart, the father of slain teen Miana Stewart, released a statement in which he and his wife thanked the community and t

October 16, 2005|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GERRARDSTOWN, W.VA.

Randy and Mary Stewart, the grieving parents of a slain 14-year-old girl, said Saturday that they appreciate the outpouring of love from the community over the loss of their daughter Miana, who they said "was our life."

"Mary and I would like to thank everyone for the tremendous amount of love that has been shared with us," Randy Stewart said Saturday in the statement. "We're still in disbelief and shock over the horrific crime committed against Miana. She was our life. We lived for Miana. She made us proud every single day.

"I am thankful that my wife, Mary, was able to survive this brutal attack."

Miana Stewart, the couple's only child and a popular ninth-grader at Musselman Middle School, was found dead, bound and gagged Thursday in the basement of the family home at 195 Reunion Corner Road in the Gerrard Acres development.

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Sgt. Willie Johnson of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department said Friday that he believed Miana died from some form of asphyxiation.

Roger Dwayne Smith, 24, of 419 S. Raleigh St. in Martinsburg, W.Va., has been charged with murder, daytime burglary and malicious wounding in connection with the girl's death and an assault on her mother.

Smith was in the house when Miana was dropped off by a school bus around 3 p.m. Police believe Smith entered the house about a half-hour before.

According to police, Mary Stewart was attacked with a baseball bat when she came home later in the afternoon. She, too, was bound and taken to the basement. She managed to escape to a neighbor, who called police.

When sheriff deputies arrived, they saw a man, later identified as Smith, running from the back of the house. He was caught after a brief chase. He told police that he went into the house to steal a dirt bike.

Randy Stewart praised his wife for "her courage and willpower to get to our neighbors for help."

"We are thankful for the quick response from the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, especially Sgt. R.L. Gardner, Cpl. Will Henderson and Deputy T.E. Boyles. Without them he would have gotten away."

Randy Stewart said he and his wife had "a comforting feeling when we learned that a K-9 was involved in the pursuit and capture."

Miana had a special fondness for animals. While the family owned two ponies and two horses, she claimed the tallest horse as her own, said a neighbor who lives in Gerrard Acres.

"Miana loved animals," Randy Stewart said in the statement. "Many people have asked what they can do. We thought it would be a wonderful gesture to make a donation to the sheriff's department K-9 unit in memory of Miana."

Donations to the sheriff's department may be made in care of Miana Stewart at the main branch of City National Bank at P.O. Box 2569, Martinsburg, WV 25401 or any of the bank's branch offices, Randy Stewart said.

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