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Family of bludgeoned teen had reported her missing

September 22, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

INWOOD, W.Va. -- The family of an Inwood, W.Va., teenager who was one of four people found bludgeoned to death in a Farmville, Va., home, reported their daughter missing to the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department last week, a department spokesman said Tuesday.

Authorities said aspiring rapper Richard Alden Samuel McCroskey III, 20, is a suspect in the death of Melanie Wells, 18, of Inwood; her friend, Emma Niederbrock, 16; and Emma's mother, Longwood University professor Debra Kelley, 53. McCroskey has been charged in the death of Mark Niederbrock, 50, Emma's father and a pastor at a Presbyterian church in central Virginia.

Lt. R.L. Gardner of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department said Wells' parents knew she was staying at the house where Kelley lived, and had made arrangements to pick her up to take her home.

They drove to Farmville and tried to call Melanie about an hour before they arrived but she didn't answer her cell phone, said Gardner, who said he thought the girl's parents made the trip Wednesday, Sept. 16.

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They drove to the house and waited for about seven hours before returning to Inwood and filing a missing person report, Gardner said.

Melanie's parents were notified shortly after midnight Friday that their daughter's body had been found, Gardner said.

The bodies were discovered in the house in Farmville, about 50 miles west of Richmond, Va., according to authorities.

A day before the bodies were found, McCroskey answered the door at the home and calmly told police looking for Wells that she was at the movies with a friend, The Associated Press reported. Her mother had called police asking them to check on her daughter.

When the worried mother called police again Friday, they went to the house and discovered the bodies, AP reported.

Prince Edward County Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Ennis confirmed that McCroskey was staying in Kelley's home during a visit to Virginia.

Wells and her family moved to West Virginia from Louisville, Ky., just before the girl was to enter high school, AP reported.

Wells enrolled at Musselman High School last spring and completed the past school year, Berkeley County Schools spokeswoman Jaimee Borger said Tuesday. The girl was enrolled at Musselman High this year but had not been there since school started, Borger said.

A friend told AP that Wells dropped out of school and was studying for her high school equivalency diploma.

Holly Kleppner, one of the assistant principals at Musselman High, talked to teachers who had Wells as a student, Borger said. The memories of Wells were that she was popular with her friends, was an inventive writer and completed her creative writing assignments with enthusiasm, Borger said.

"Everything was very positive," Borger said.

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