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Photos of bloody crime scene shown to jury in West Virginia murder trial

July 31, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • Joshua L. Stitley and Roy L. Wisotzkey
File photos

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Blankets and pillows that concealed the body of Vickie Clem did little to cover up evidence of a violent struggle that resulted in the Falling Waters, W.Va., woman’s death.

In the trial that began Wednesday for one of two men charged with Clem’s murder, Trooper J.D. See of the West Virginia State Police testified that the walls and the ceiling of the master bedroom where Clem, 57, was found on May 27, 2011, were splattered with blood.

Images of the bloody crime scene at 81 Vinca Lane, accompanied by See’s description of them, were shown to a jury of seven men and five women who were sworn in the morning for the trial of Roy L. Wisotzkey of Hagerstown.

The jury also heard testimony from one of the first troopers to arrive at the crime scene, Clem’s neighbor, Donald Eccard, and a recording of the 911 call that was placed by his wife, Janice Eccard.

Wisotzkey, 35, and Vickie Clem’s son, Joshua Stitley, 34, of Hancock were indicted in October 2011 on several charges in connection with Clem’s slaying and the beating of her husband at their home in Potomac Heights subdivision.

The counts against the men include murder, felony murder, attempted murder, malicious assault, burglary, conspiracy, two counts of assault during the commission of a felony and two counts of first-degree robbery, according to the indictments.

Stitley, whose trial is set for Oct. 22, also was indicted on charges of fleeing while driving under the influence from a law-enforcement officer and fraudulent use of an access device.

Dennis Eccard testified that he was outside doing yard work when he heard a cry for help and then saw his neighbor, Jack Clem, coming toward him.

There was blood on Clem’s head and blood was running down his leg, and he wasn’t wearing any clothes, Eccard said.

Clem told him he had been struck in the head and stabbed, and that his wife had been killed, he said.

At the time, the Clems’ attackers were still at the home. Upon hearing the door to his home open, Clem told Eccard that they needed to hide because he didn’t know whether his stepson and the man with him had a gun.

Eccard testified that he saw two men leave Clem’s driveway in a white box or cargo-style van, but couldn’t identify them.

Eccard said he knew of Stitley and had previously seen the van, but only had spoken to him in passing.

When he arrived at Eccard’s residence to investigate, state police Cpl. F.H. Edwards testified that Clem was very distraught and kept pointing to his split-level home across the street, saying, “She’s dead, she’s dead.”

Upon entering the Clems’ home, Edwards said he was greeted by two large mastiff dogs and ultimately found the deceased covered in blankets in the last bedroom at the end of the upstairs hallway.

Edwards said he also noticed that the bathroom had a large of amount of blood on the floor.

A knife was found on the floor in the bathroom sink area, and a decorative sword was lying on the toilet, Edwards said. A baseball bat was found beside the front door, he said.

See and other members of crime-scene response team of troopers photographed evidence, took measurements and produced a diagram of the top floor of the home.

The photographs documented multiple instances of blood splatter in the bathroom and bedroom, as well as the discovery of a hypodermic needle, two straws that appeared to be cut in half, with a white substance near them on the oven range, and an open wallet near the kitchen sink.

In her opening statement, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said the state’s evidence would show that the two men intended to rob the Clems and planned to use the sword to scare them.

The Clems had planned to travel to Washington, D.C., the morning of May 27 to take part in the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally event, Games-Neely told the jury.

Games-Neely said the attack occurred about 11:30 p.m. on May 26 after the Clems had gone to bed for the night. The couple awoke to discover intruders in their home, she said.

During the recording of a 911 call, which was played for the jury, Janice Eccard could be heard telling a dispatcher that Jack Clem had told her husband that he had been stabbed with a pocket knife.

Her husband later told the dispatcher that Clem had said he also had been knocked out after being struck in the head with a baseball bat.

Berkeley County Central Dispatch received the call from 76 Vinca Lane at 8:26 a.m., dispatcher Margaret Hoogland testified. 

Police caught up with Wisotzkey and Stitley less than 20 minutes later, according to a 911 computer-aided dispatch report that Hoogland was asked to review during her testimony.

The trial is expected to continue into next week. If convicted, Wisotzkey could face life in prison.

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