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Ghost hunter found guilty in W.Va. court

September 22, 2007|MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - The founder of the West Virginia Society of Ghost Hunters was found guilty Friday of practicing medicine and counseling without a license, after two days of trial.

Susan R. Crites, 56, of 208 Ruffed Grouse Lane, is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. on Dec. 10.

She was found guilty of three counts of unauthorized practice of medicine without a license and five counts of unauthorized counseling without a license, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely said.

"We appreciate the jury's verdict," Games-Neely said after leaving the county's judicial center Friday afternoon.

"These people (the victims in the case) have been through a lot. Now they can begin to heal."

Post-trial motions and the status of a felony charge still pending against Crites are expected to be addressed Oct. 1, and Games-Neely said a decision still must be made as to whether the state will proceed with the felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance (Percocet) still pending against Crites.

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Defense attorney Heidi J. Myers said she respected the jury's decision, but was planning to file an appeal.

Witnesses testified Thursday that Crites told them she had post-graduate degrees from West Virginia University.

Amber Downing of Hedgesville, W.Va., testified that Crites encouraged her to intern with her, and encouraged her to attend WVU and enroll in the school's noted psychology program.

Michael Faulkner of Capon Springs, W.Va., said he believed Crites was a doctor and licensed in hypnotherapy when he attended sessions with her for his depression.

Faulkner said he paid Crites $15 a session for some of her services.

In the felony case, a victim said Crites told her she was a doctor after she became ill, and Crites gave her medication for what later was determined to be a cancerous growth, records show.

Crites has written at least two books about ghosts in the Tri-State area and in a 2005 interview told The Herald-Mail she was developing a database about ghost sightings in the area.

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