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Man kills woman, then self

October 16, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - An estranged boyfriend of a Berkeley County woman shot the woman several times in the torso early Sunday morning then shot himself, said police, who found the man dead in a pickup truck across the street from the woman's home off Nadenbousch Lane.

The woman, Tracey Spriggs, 34, died en route to City Hospital in Martinsburg, police said.

Police believe the man, Antonio Hernandez, 34, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., might have shot himself in the truck. His foot then hit the gas, causing the vehicle to go across Crestview Drive and into a stormwater drainage area, police said.

Several children were in the house at the time of the shooting and police said there had been domestic trouble between Hernandez and Spriggs.

West Virginia State Police Trooper Z.L. Nine said he was called to Spriggs' home at 31 Crestview Drive in the Nadenbousch Heights subdivision south of Martinsburg about 7:33 a.m. Nine, who was assisted by four other troopers, said he arrived and found a man slumped over in a 1998 Ford pickup in the drainage area with a large amount of blood in the lower part of his back.

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The man had no pulse and as the body was being moved out of the truck, a .380 caliber handgun was found. Nine said it is the weapon believed to have been used in the shootings.

Nine and another trooper went to Spriggs' house and found her lying on the living room floor with blood on her face and legs.

Spriggs was nonresponsive and had a faint pulse, Nine said. She was being taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg, but died on the way, Nine said.

Hernandez was taken to Brown Funeral Home.

Caren Snapp, a neighbor of Spriggs, said she gradually got to know Spriggs over the last two years and described the victim as self-conscious but having attractive features. Snapp said she had fun with Spriggs and would suggest ways for Spriggs to accentuate her pretty face.

Spriggs and Hernandez periodically had verbal disputes and Hernandez would sometimes pull up in front of Spriggs' house and sit there "hours on end," Snapp said.

Snapp, who described Hernandez as a "hothead," recalled one night when Hernandez sat outside Spriggs' house for about eight hours.

Hernandez was at Spriggs' house Saturday night and gave one of the children money, Snapp said.

"She had never mentioned that he had come at her before," Snapp said.

"Unbelievable, unbelievable," a visibly shaken Snapp said as she tried to make sense of the shootings Sunday afternoon.

Nine said he was not sure how long the couple had been separated. Nine said he believes Hernandez was wanting to come to the house to live.

"She didn't want him back and I think that's what the main problem was," Nine said.

Snapp said she and her family were asleep Sunday morning when one of Spriggs' children began ringing her door bell constantly.

Snapp said she went to Spriggs' house and found her.

"I put my cheek to her face. I didn't know what else to do," Snapp said.

Spriggs had four children, three of whom she had with the suspect, Snapp said.

Spriggs and Hernandez had a daughter about 15 years old, a son about 13 and a baby, Snapp said.

Spriggs' fourth child was a son about 16, Snapp said.

The three teenagers were at the house when the shooting occurred, Snapp said.

"They heard everything going on," Nine said.

Nine said he believes Hernandez shot himself once in the chest while he was in the truck. As a result of Hernandez shooting himself, Nine said he thinks the man's foot might have hit the gas, causing it to travel down the driveway and across Crestview Drive. A neighbor pointed to where the truck went between two pine trees over an embankment and into the drainage area.

Snapp said Spriggs' children were staying at a relative's home on Sunday.

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