Crime and Public Safety

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UPDATED NEWS RELEASE: On May 28, 2020 at 7:47pm, the Martinsville-Henry County 9-1-1 Center received a call for a well-being check at 221 Venna Ave., Martinsville, VA.  Deputies from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office responded to the address.  Upon arrival deputies were unable to make contact with the individuals that live in the home.  At the family’s request deputies made entry into the home and located three deceased individuals, one male and two females.

Through the course of the investigation the deceased individuals have been identified as,

  • Larry John Cassell, 57, of 221 Venna Ave., Martinsville, VA 24112
  • Linda Cassell, 64, of 221 Venna Ave., Martinsville, VA 2412
  • Lois Irene Cassell, 90, of 221 Venna Ave., Martinsville, VA 24112

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Roanoke, Virginia has ruled the cause of death for all three individuals as gunshot wounds.  The manner of death for Linda Cassell and Lois Irene Cassell has been ruled homicide.  The manner of death for Larry John Cassell has been ruled suicide.

This investigation is ongoing and anyone having information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at 276-638-8751 or Crimestoppers at 63-CRIME (632-7463).  The Crimestoppers Program offers rewards up to $2500.00 for information related to crime.  The nature of the crime and the substance of the information determine the amount of reward paid.

PREVIOUS: On May 28, 2020 at 7:47pm, the Martinsville-Henry County 9-1-1 Center received a call for a well-being check at 221 Venna Ave., Martinsville, VA.  Deputies from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office responded to the address.  Upon arrival deputies were unable to make contact with the individuals that live in the home.  At the family’s request deputies made entry into the home and located three deceased individuals, one male and two females.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the Western District of Virginia was contacted and an investigator with their office responded to the scene.  Henry County Sheriff’s Office investigators and the investigator from the medical examiner’s office photographed and processed the scene.  While the investigation is still ongoing, evidence in the initial stages support this incident is possibly a murder suicide.

All three bodies were transported to the medical examiner’s office for autopsies to determine the identification of the victim’s as well as the manner and cause of death. The identity of the deceased individuals will be released upon verification.

This investigation is ongoing and anyone having information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at 276-638-8751 or Crimestoppers at 63-CRIME (632-7463).  The Crimestoppers Program offers rewards up to $2500.00 for information related to crime.  The nature of the crime and the substance of the information determine the amount of reward paid.

1991 photo from BCSO

NEWS RELEASE: On 5/27/2020 Bedford County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the area of Shingle Block Road in Bedford concerning a possible malicious wounding.

The Bedford Emergency 911 Dispatch Center received a call from a citizen that a female had stabbed a male multiple times in the woods in this area. A description was provided by the caller and as deputies arrived and observed a female matching the description at the intersection of Shingle Block Road and Rock Cliff Road and were able to take her into custody without incident.

The female was identified as Kathryn Hudson of 1094 Musser Court.  Through investigation it was determined that Hudson had assaulted a Donald Craighead who was transported to Roanoke Memorial Hospital with injuries to his face, neck, and back.  Latest report is that Craighead is in critical condition.

Hudson was transported to the Bedford Adult Detention Center and charged with Malicious Wounding.  She was held without bond.

This investigation is still ongoing.

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) — A Virginia grand jury has indicted a man on charges stemming from the shooting death of a teenager during a marijuana sale last year.

Foster Leon Brooks Jr. 23, of Fredericksburg was indicted this week by a Spotsylvania County grand jury on charges that include manslaughter and second-degree felony murder, The Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg reported Friday.

A felony murder charge is a homicide that occurs during the commission of another felony and carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.

According to police and court records, Noah Waters, 19, of Spotsylvania was shot and killed on Dec. 4. Authorities said Waters and another man went to an area to close a marijuana sale. Instead, police said the would-be buyers instead tried to rob Brooks at gunpoint. Police said Brooks fired back and shot Waters.

A car carrying Brooks showed up at a nearby business moments later and police were called. Waters was pronounced dead a short time later at an area hospital.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A former Virginia prosecutor faces a disciplinary hearing over his handling of a plea agreement in a fatal boat crash.

Jan Smith, who was Lancaster County’s top prosecutor, had negotiated an agreement for John Randolph Hooper to serve one year in jail after pleading guilty in the August 2017 death of 31-year-old Graham McCormick.

A Virginia State Bar subcommittee concluded Smith violated rules of professional conduct when he discussed the deal with McCormick’s family and “wrongfully and inaccurately” suggested that the judge overseeing the case had prejudged it, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. McCormick’s family believed the deal was too lenient.

The subcommittee said Smith violated rules against knowingly making a false statement of fact or law. A disciplinary hearing has not been scheduled yet. Smith could face suspension or revocation of his law license if the charges are proved.

Smith lost a November election after one term as the county’s top prosecutor. He has 21 days to respond to the subcommittee’s findings.

McCormick’s body was found floating in a creek off the Rappahannock River. The state medical examiner concluded that McCormick’s death was caused by drowning and that blunt-force trauma was a contributing factor.

McCormick and Hooper, a college friend, were intoxicated when they went for a ride in a boat that crashed into a bulkhead, according to evidence provided during a plea hearing. Hooper, 34, of Richmond, was indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and failure to render aid.

Photo: Martinsville City Jail

STATE POLICE NEWS RELEASE: MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Four local men and women are behind bars facing multiple charges related to the May 13, 2020 homicide of a Henry County woman. With the assistance of Henry County Commonwealth’s Attorney, the Virginia State Police served the arrest warrants May 20 and May 21 on all four individuals. All four were taken into custody without incident.

The investigation began the morning of May 13, 2020, upon the discovery of Pamela S. Morse, 63, of Martinsville, Va. deceased inside her residence in the 1300 block of Wingfield Orchard Road. At approximately 7:52 a.m., her husband called 911 to report that he had just arrived home from work and discovered his wife deceased. The Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke confirmed Ms. Morse died from a gunshot wound.

Further investigation revealed several items had been stolen from the residence to include a 2010 Jeep Compass. The Jeep was recovered later the same day (May 13, 2020) abandoned behind a residence in Franklin County. Several firearms and other stolen items from the Morse residence were located inside the stolen Jeep.

State police have charged the husband, David Lee Morse, 66, of Martinsville, Va., with 1st degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. He is being held without bond at the Martinsville City Jail. [Morse is a former Henry County sheriff’s deputy.]

Collin Joshua Russell, 37, of Stuart, Va., was taken into custody last week in Franklin County on an unrelated arrest warrant from Patrick County. Virginia State Police served him Thursday (May 21) with five warrants in relation to the Morse homicide: 1st degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, use of a firearm in the commission of felony, grand larceny of a firearm and grand larceny of a motor vehicle. Russell is being held at the Patrick County Jail without bond.

Also arrested Wednesday are Tanna Shelton Fitzgerald, 54, of Fieldale, Va.. She has been charged with 1st degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. She is being held without bond at the Henry County Jail.

Casey Lynn Rogers, 27, of Meadows of Dan, Va., was charged Thursday (May 21) with 1st degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, grand larceny of a firearm and grand larceny of a motor vehicle. She is being held without bond at the Martinsville City Jail.

The investigation remains ongoing by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Salem Field Office, in cooperation with the Henry County Commonwealth’s Attorney. The Henry County Sheriff’s Office, Franklin County Commonwealth’s Attorney and Patrick County Sheriff’s Office have also assisted with the investigation.

MUG SHOTS: Please contact the jails to obtain the mug shots.

The Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office says a man who fired several shots at a deputy overnight later took his own life. Deputies were called to a domestic disturbance near Buchanan and later caught up with the suspect in the Springwood area of the county. Officials say 41-year-old suspect fired at a deputy, striking a patrol car several times. The suspect was later found dead in nearby woods with what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

NEWS RELEASE:  This morning, Wednesday, May 20, 2020, at 1:28 a.m. a concerned citizen reported a domestic disturbance in the 1600 block of Pico Road in the northern area of Botetourt County.

Deputies responding to the scene received information that threats of violence were made toward a citizen and law enforcement; and a firearm was discharged. Upon the arrival to the scene.  Deputies were told the alleged suspect involved, had left the scene in a white Ford pickup truck. The suspect vehicle was located in the 1500 block of Davis Run. As the deputy approached in his vehicle, he was fired upon by the suspect; striking the deputy’s patrol vehicle multiple times.

The Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Response Team and the Virginia State Police, Tactical Team, responded to the scene. Deputies were able to make contact with the suspect by phone. The suspect refused to negotiate and ended the call. The negotiator attempted multiple times to reestablish communication without success.

The Botetourt Sheriff’s Office Emergency Response Team conducted a search of a wooded area near where the deputy was fired upon.  Deputies discovered a 41 year old male, which was unresponsive, and had suffered from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

No officers discharged their weapons, and no officers were injured in the incident.

The body has been transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke for examination, an autopsy and positive identification.

This investigation remains ongoing at this time.

From Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office: At 8:47 p.m. on Tuesday May 19th, deputies from our Office responded to a 911 call from the 1400 block of Red Hawk Run (Christiansburg).When deputies arrived on the scene they discovered 51 year old Michelle L. Tompkins suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Riner Rescue Squad members transported her to the New River Valley Medical Center where she died a short time later. Deputies arrested her husband 58-year-old Gerard P. Tompkins of Christiansburg at the scene. He was charged with second-degree murder and is being held in the Montgomery County Jail with no bond.The investigation is on-going, further charges may be pending. No other information is available at this time.

UPDATED NEWS RELEASE: The Virginia State Police have identified the victim found in the home in the 1300 block of Wingfield Orchard Road in Henry County.
The 63 year old female victim is identified as Pamela S. Morse of Henry County. Ms. Morse was found by her husband when he returned home at approximately 8:00 a.m. Wednesday (May 13). The Henry County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene, and then contacted the Virginia State Police to conduct the investigation into the death.
Special Agents from the Virginia State Police, Bureau of Criminal Investigation responded to the scene and received information that a 2010 Jeep Compass was missing from the driveway. Police located the Jeep Compass behind a residence in Henry Community of Franklin County.
The remains of the victim have been sent to the Virginia Office of the Medical Examiner, Western District to determine the cause of death.
Anyone with information should contact the Virginia State Police at
1-800-542-5959.
This remains an active investigation.
PREVIOUS: The Virginia State Police, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Salem Division has been asked by the Henry County Sheriff’s Office to investigate a death in Henry County.
A female was found deceased in a home this morning, in the 1300 block of Wingfield Orchard Road in Henry County. The Virginia State Police was contacted at approximately 10:00 a.m. by the Henry County Sheriff’s Office to assist with the death investigation.
Police are currently looking for a 2010 Red Jeep Compass, with a Virginia Registration of VFV 5461 that is missing from the home. Anyone with information on the location of this vehicle, please contact the Virginia State Police at 1-800-542-5959.

VDH is reporting 772 new coronavirus cases this morning, bringing the statewide total to 22,342. Health officials are reporting an additional 6,662 people have been tested for coronavirus in the most recent 24-hour period. That means less than 9-percent of those tested are presumed to have COVID-19. Yesterday’s numbers showed 15% of those tested were presumed to have coronavirus. There has also been 43 coronavirus related deaths bringing the overall death toll to 812.

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