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Fayette County inmate pleads guilty to killing other inmate

MOUNT OLIVE, W.Va. — A Fayette County inmate has been convicted of second-degree murder in connection to a deadly stabbing at the Mount Olive Correctional Center over three years ago.

Prosecuting Attorney Anthony Ciliberti, Jr. announced this week that Charles Redman, 55, of Mount Olive, pleaded guilty to the felony offense before Circuit Judge Thomas H. Ewing.

West Virginia State Police (WVSP) received a report of a stabbing at the Mount Olive Correctional Center on November 20, 2020. Investigators told troopers that Redman had stabbed another inmate multiple times. The victim eventually died that evening at Montgomery General Hospital.

Video surveillance obtained from the prison showed that Redman followed the victim to an upstairs hallway after the two got into a confrontation. Redman approached the victim and began stabbing him. Investigators recovered the weapon that Redman used in the stabbing. It was an improvised weapon made of a piece of metal and was about 8 inches long. WVSP confirmed the weapon had DNA of the victim on it.

According to correctional officers, Redman admitted that he stabbed and killed the victim during a recorded phone call that he made to a relative.

Redman faces 10 to 40 years in prison. His sentencing is currently scheduled for July 8, 2024.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

West Virginia State University holds a day of community service and giving back

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Over 200 staff, students, and partners at West Virginia State University getting to work across the community in an effort to show how much they care.

The 11th annual WVSU Cares Day, a day of community service, was held Friday at 17 sites throughout Kanawha and Putnam counties.

WVSU President Ericke Cage said it’s a way the school can give back.

“It’s our way to really express to our community how much we appreciate all of the support that they give us as an institution,” said Cage.

Ericke Cage

The volunteers were working on a variety of projects Friday as part of the Cares Day, from painting and planting, to cleaning and organizing.

The work was being done at a number of non-profit organizations throughout the community. Some of them included The American Red Cross, where landscaping and recycling work was being carried out, The Salvation Army, where the volunteers were cleaning and organizing the food pantry there, and at Mountain Care Network, where they were cooking food for those in need.

Cage said more and various work was going on at the other locations, as well.

“Toys and items are being donated to the needy, we are just at Union Mission now where we will be doing a combination of painting and cleaning and also sorting items, we’ll have people out at Kanawha State Forest,” he said.

Cage said some of the work still included clean up from the April 2nd storm that hit the region and brought about a total of 10 confirmed tornadoes.

He said the storm did some damage to WVSUs’ campus, but Cage added that what he remembers most about the event was not the destruction it caused, but the resiliency of the community and how everybody came together to help each other build back.

He said whether it be the Kanawha County Commission, the City of Charleston, the Higher Education Policy Commission, or the Red Cross, they all stepped up to help WVSU make the necessary clean up and repairs on its campus.

Now, Cage said it was time to return the favor and extend it out into the whole community.

“Today is our opportunity to give back, to say thank you for helping West Virginia State, thank you for believing in us and helping us get through, not just the storm, but to get through the day to day life of the work that we do at the university,” said Cage.

Cage said Cares Day got started at WVSU back in 2013.

He said every little bit helps these organizations and makes a difference.

“When you’re out here running a non-profit organization, anytime that you can get volunteers to step up and to help, you advance your mission is critically important,” said Cage.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Former Macy’s building to be torn down for construction of Capital Sports Center

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The former Macy’s building in downtown Charleston is coming down.

Amy Shuler Goodwin

Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin and Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango announced on Friday’s “580 Live” with Dave Allen on MetroNews flagship station 580-WCHS demolition is slated for Monday to make room for the construction of the new Capital Sports Center.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Goodwin said. “What is going to be in replace of that building is truly going to continue the synergy and energy that we have in downtown Charleston.”

Salango said lawyers closed on the purchase of the old Macy’s property on Wednesday.

“We were finally able to get the agreements in place. We’ve recorded the documents. The Sports Authority now owns the Macy’s building, so we can start demolition,” he said.

Ben Salango

City and county officials will hold an on-site walk-through for members of the media at 1 p.m. Monday. A press conference will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Rodney Loftis & Sons will be completing the demolition.

The Capital Sports Center is part of Goodwin’s overall revitalization plan to beautify downtown Charleston and generate tourism. She said the new facility will give local athletes the chance to play sports at a high level.

“We’ve got some outstanding athletes here, and not just those that go on and get college scholarships, play volleyball or basketball, but we also have a community that their children need to learn, develop and grow,” she said. “Let’s give them a place to figure that out.”

Salango said the success of the Shawnee Sports Complex in Dunbar will hopefully be replicated in downtown Charleston. He said the commission has been in support of the Capital Sports Center project since it was announced in Aug. 2022.

“Commissioner Carper and Commission President Wheeler have been in support of this because they’ve seen how this works with the success at the Shawnee Sports Complex bringing in over $150 million in its first five years of economic impact,” Salango said.

The new center will feature an aquatic center, six basketball courts or 12 volleyball courts, six basketball courts, two wrestling mats, eight pickle ball courts, a fitness center, a turf soccer field, a running track, a swimming pool, a rock-climbing wall and a main gymnasium.

The entire project is expected to cost around $80 million.

The City of Charleston and Kanawha County Commission have each contributed $5 million each to get the project started. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s office has also provided $2 million.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Kanawha County Schools Superintendent announces agreement with WVU on new Master’s program for teachers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Superintendent of Kanawha County Schools Dr. Tom Williams was excited to deliver the news during a county board of education meeting Thursday that West Virginia University will start providing up to 25 teachers the opportunity to earn their Master’s degree in reading.

Kanawha County School Superintendent Tom Williams

Tom Williams

“They have lowered their tuition and with ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds, we are going to be able to provide 25 teachers with a Master’s degree in reading and they will come out as a reading specialist,” Dr. Williams said.

According to Dr. Williams, the program will be a two-year, online program with the possibility of some in-person meetings. Right now, both sides are figuring out the criteria for what teachers are eligible. Upon completion of the Master’s program in reading literacy, the select teachers will have to commit to Kanawha County for a certain number of years.

“I think that will be a tremendous help to our students in those classrooms for years and years to come,” said Dr. Williams.

Talks of a collaborative effort between West Virginia University and Kanawha County Schools started two years ago. Dr. Williams said West Virginia University and President Gordon Gee wanted to have a bigger presence in Kanawha County. So, they came to an agreement. Dr. Williams told Gee that the county wanted more teachers for math, reading, special education, etc. Then, the announcement from Dr. Williams came this week of the Master’s program.

Gordon Gee

“25 of our teachers will be able to get a free Master’s degree in reading literacy.”

Autumn Cyprès became dean of the WVU College of Applied Human Sciences in May 2022. The School of Education is under that college. Williams spoke highly of Cyprès ever since they became familiar with each other at the beginning of the year. He called her a “go-getter.”

“They’ve been down here to visit our schools,” Williams said. “We’ve had several meetings down here with them and then last week they took some of us up to WVU.”

Williams said the program will better train teachers on how to better teach the reading material and students in those classrooms will benefit in the long run.

“I’m truly really excited about it,” he said.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Kanawha County Board of Education honors some of the KCS educators and personnel

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Board of Education announced this year’s award winners for teacher, school service personnel and professional employee of the year.

The Teacher of the Year award was presented to Jodi Grimm, a sixth grade teacher at Elkview Middle School. Grimm was previously a fourth grade teacher, a Title I reading teacher and a middle school ELA teacher. Superintendent of Kanawha County Schools Dr. Tom Williams described her as being a loving and supportive educator to her students and other staff members.

“She not only supports them in the classroom but also in activities throughout the community,” said Williams. “She provides comfort and ease to her students when they’re transitioning from elementary to middle school, which is very tough.”

Grimm earned her Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Master’s degree in reading at Marshall University.

“I am shocked and speechless,” Grimm said when she received the award. “I am incredibly honored.”

The Service Personnel of the Year is Susan Wiley from DuPont Middle School. She has served in Kanawha County Schools for more than 30 years as a school bus driver, clerk and most recently secretary at DuPont.

“She has led countless projects and fundraisers,” Williams said. “DuPont has been blessed to have Mrs. Susan Wiley as an employee.”

“I couldn’t do my job without the support of everyone here,” Wiley said with tears in her eyes. “DuPont is a wonderful place.”

The Professional Employee of the Year is Keith Vititoe, the district’s Executive Director of Safety and Security. Vititoe is responsible for the security of 23,000 students and around 4,000 employees. He previously spent 22 years with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department, 18 years with SWAT with some of those years as the commander and 17 years as an FBI certified bomb technician.

“He works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and he is always at the other end of the phone,” said Williams.

Williams went on to see how much Vititoe has changed the culture of Kanawha County Schools when it comes to safety measures and school lockdowns.

“He changed our whole mindset,” Williams said. “If the day every comes in Kanawha County, and we pray that it doesn’t, our folks will be well trained because of him.”

Vititoe has been in some form of public service since he was 17. He hopes to wrap up his career in his current position.

“I’m truly honored and humbled at the same time,” Vititoe said.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Dirty Birds owner Andy Shea is ready for 2024 season

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Opening Day for the Charleston Dirty Birds is less than a week away.

The team will open up the 2024 season at GoMart Ballpark against the Staten Island FerryHawks on Thursday, April 25. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35.

Team owner and CEO Any Shea is as excited as ever for the start of the season. According to him, vibes are good right now.

“More than ever we are ready to go,” Shea said Thursday about his team and staff.

Shea’s goals heading into 2024 are to improve attendance and improve the play on the field.

“We are primed for that all around,” said Shea. “The team looks amazing. I have no doubt about how great the team’s going to be.”

The team is going through spring training at the moment. Shea has high hopes for this group who is under first-year manager P.J. Phillips.

“It’s kind of surreal being together again and almost as if nothing’s changed,” Shea said.

Shea and Phillips were a team during their time in Lexington. Phillips managed the Lexington club for three years where they won a league championship in 2021. Shea said he trusts Phillips and knows the team will have success under his direction.

“He’s a proven guy, but it’s off the fieid that I love the most with his integrity,” Shea said, talking highly about his manager. “He’s just a good human being.”

The team has hired a new general manager in Ben Blum as well as a few new faces in other parts of the office. She said they’ve brought in new people but have also added positions due to the growth of the organization.

“We’ve got roughly a 40% bigger staff than what we had on opening day last year so our company grows and our attendance grows,” he said.

For the fans, there are a few new things introduced this year that they should be excited about too. The ballpark will have a new kids area positioned behind the press box. Shea said there will also be a mini golf course that is currently being installed. Plus, you can’t have a ballpark without great food.

“We’re partnering with West Virginia Grown on a handful of things, our culinary department has put together a few things because that is a staple and a key at any venue, let alone a baseball stadium,” he said.

Also new this year, the Dirty Birds are hosting the first ever home run derby at the ballpark Saturday, April 20. There have been home run derbys at the ballpark put on by the Atlantic League before, but this is the first put on by the team.

“It’s gonna be a show with these guys that we got picking up a bat for this home run derby,” Shea said.

The team held their media day Thursday at the ballpark.

For tickets and other team information, check out dirtybirdsbaseball.com.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Kanawha County man convicted of drug, weapons charges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha City man has been convicted of felony drug and weapons charges.

According to a release from the Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office, Maurice Crockett, 35, is facing charges of possession with intent to deliver fentanyl, prohibited person in possession of concealed firearms and prohibited person in possession of a firearm.

The Charleston Police Department said they made two separate encounters with Crockett on May 18, 2022, and January 19, 2023, in Kanawha City. During those instances, authorities seized four firearms, ammunition, 12 grams of fentanyl, cutting agents, and hundreds of distribution bags.

Crockett was found guilty of all charges following a four day trial before Circuit Judge Maryclaire Akers. Judge Akers revoked Crockett’s bond and remanded him to the South Central Regional Jail. His sentencing is currently scheduled for May 23.

In relation to the case, Kellie Johnson, 33, faces a felony charge of perjury in connection with her sworn testimony given at trial.

According to the criminal complaint, Johnson testified under oath that the firearms involved in the seizure belonged to her late brother, who died in 2018. Investigators discovered that two of the weapons were purchased years after the death of Johnson’s brother.

Kanawha County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Debra Rusnak thanked Detective Travis Bailes and Patrolman Brent Foster for their investigative work.

“While I wholeheartedly support our Second Amendment right to bear arms, our office is committed to prosecuting convicted felons carrying weapons and dealing deadly drugs on our streets,” Rusnak said.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Boone County mother charged in daughter’s death

MORRISVALE, W.Va. — A Boone County woman is behind bars charged in connection with the death of her teenage daughter.

Julie Anne Stone Miller (WVRJA)

Boone County Sheriff Chad Barker said deputies were dispatched to a home in the Morrisvale community Wednesday to investigate a reported death. When deputies arrived they found the body of a 14-year-old girl on the bathroom floor. Investigators described the girl’s body as “emaciated to a skeletal state.”

Authorities arrested Julie Anne Stone Miller, 49, of Morrisvale. She’s charged with felony child neglect causing death.

A criminal complaint filed in Boone County Magistrate Court described the details of the discovery of the victim identified in court records at “K.M.”

Chief Deputy Mark Abbot wrote in the court document they interviewed the victim’s grandmother who said the girl had an eating disorder which dated back for several years and had not been eating in the last four to five months. She further told investigators the child’s health had been in decline for months or years and in the past four to five days her physical condition had become so bad she was unable to function on her own.

“K.M.’s physical appearance was shocking with an obvious emaciated, skeletal state,” read the complaint.

The grandmother also said, according to investigators, the teen had not attended school since late 2019 or 2020 and hadn’t been outside the house more than a couple of time in the last four years.

“With the overwhelmingly visible conditions of K.M.’s body and the clear and distinct physical problems, Miller failed to obtain any medical treatment for K.M. for at least the last four years,” Abbott wrote. “It is believed this neglect caused the death of K.M., a 14-year-old child.”

Miller is lodged in the Southwestern Regional Jail on $250,000.

Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and there could be additional charges.

The girl’s body was scheduled for an autopsy Thursday at the state Medical Examiner’s Office.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Operation GPA launching again in Kanawha County to help keep kids safe on prom and graduation nights

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County police and school officials say the goal is to keep students safe during some of the most memorable events of their lives.

For 18 years now, Kanawha County Sheriffs, Metro 911, the Kanawha County Commission, the board of education, among others have been coming together to launch Operation Graduation Prom Alive, a program meant to keep students safe and ensure no fatalities ensue on prom and graduation nights.

They all met Thursday morning to start getting Operation GPA underway in the community yet again.

Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford said there’s a full presence of police from every county law enforcement agency as well as state sheriffs out on those nights.

“We’ll go to the areas where the proms are and the graduations are and let the kids know that we’re there, we’re there to protect them and help them.

He said they coordinate with the 911 center, so when they get calls about after parties or events that may have gotten too out of hand, officers will dispatch to that location and help bring the situation back under control.

Rutherford said they also watch the roads to make sure no one is driving recklessly or are under the influence.

He said the program has really made a difference for the safety of teenagers on prom and graduation nights.

“We’re not there to cause a problem for them, we’re not there to harass or do anything to them, we just want to make sure they’re safe,” Rutherford said. “We’ve been fortunate that it has been 18 years since we started the program and we’ve had no kids killed or injured.”

However, Rutherford said that unfortunately wasn’t the case before Operation GPA.

Kanawha County School Superintendent Tom Williams said there were at least seven fatalities that occurred in the St. Albans area from car accidents following prom and graduation when he was principal there several years ago.

Williams said while it’s a fun, celebratory occasion, it can be a very daunting one for school personnel, as they have to worry whether the students are safe or not after the main events are over.

“Prom night and graduation night, anybody who has been a high school principal knows you don’t sleep until the next morning when you know all of the kids have made it home safely, and that was always my greatest fear, the call in the middle of the night,” Williams said.

Williams was joined by all of the county high school principals Thursday during the announcement of the re-launching of Operation GPA.

Kanawha County Commission President Lance Wheeler presented the principals with checks of $2,500 each to help support the program.

Wheeler said the idea for Operation GPA came from his fellow commissioner Kent Carper 18 years ago when he wanted to provide a safety program for graduation night. He said it takes the whole community to successfully carry out the initiative.

“We’re proud to be able to support all of our partners in this, and this wouldn’t be able to be done if it wasn’t for everyone coming together,” Wheeler said.

Rutherford said the program has continued to expand over the years since it was launched. He said it now not only covers prom and graduation nights, but they also have police presence out at the beginning of the school year, as well.

He said they plan to keep running Operation GPA for many years to come, as the statistics are showing that it’s working.

“You know, there’s no way to really sit back and say that we saved this person or that person, there’s just no way to know, but we can say since the program has been in effect, we have not had one kid who has been injured or killed,” Rutherford said.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Crime victims’ awards ceremony in Charleston highlights work of domestic violence, abuse, human trafficking cases

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Law enforcement officials who worked to bring justice to a child victim involved in a child-exploitation case in Mercer County are among those to be recognized this year by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia.

Will Thompson

U.S. Attorney Will Thompson on Thursday honored the Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and Child Protect of Mercer County as part of the Excellence in Victim Advocacy and Justice Awards.

A ceremony was held at the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse in Charleston.

“The case was investigated by Lt. (S.A.) Summers as part of the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. It’s also indicative of the outstanding work done by the Mercer County Multi-Disciplinary Investigative Team which is charged with bringing justice and healing for the abused children in Mercer County,” Thompson said before he presented officials with the award.

In Nov. 2023, Eric Phillips, 43, of Princeton, was sentenced in federal court to 30 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release for persuading, inducing, enticing and coercing a young girl to engage in sexual activity with him. Phillips admitted to sending sexually explicit messages to the girl via text messaging and social media messaging apps.

Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor David Pfeifer said they worked with local child protect advocates to bring healing to the girl.

“Child Protect not only provided an expert forensic interview, but they have worked for years with the victim in this case to make sure she can cope with what happened to her,” Pfeifer said.

Thompson said in addition to human trafficking, drugs and sex crimes against children, domestic violence remains one of the top issues in West Virginia.

“Approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime,” he said. “Domestic violence abusers with access to a gun are five times more likely to kill their partner.”

YWCA Charleston Resolve Family Abuse Program Director Julie Britton knows a lot about helping domestic violence victims cope with their trauma. Britton’s staff was also recognized for their work Thursday.

“This work means everything to me,” she said. “I would love to be able to work myself out of a job, but I just want to make a difference in the community.”

A crime victims tree with messages of hope.

The YWCA program has been around since the 1980s, Britton said. In the last year their work has included some high-profile human trafficking cases. She said it’s important to meet survivors where they are and provide them with the resources to feel safe and secure moving forward.

“We are one of the folks that come in after domestic violence and human trafficking and we help the victim become whole again and sometimes that’s shelter, support services, housing and counseling,” she said.

The Operation Reach Out helped sponsor Thursday’s ceremony in coordination with National Crime Victims’ Rights Week which runs April 21-27.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV