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Renewed effort to find remains of WVU coeds murdered in 1970

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A crime scene dig connected to the 1970 WVU coed murders is continuing south of Morgantown.

Mared Malarik, left, and Karen Ferrell were murdered in 1970. (Photo/coedmurders.com)

Two groups of crime scene specialists began the dig last week looking for what may be left of remains belong to Mared Malarik and Karen Ferrell. Their bodies were found not long after their murders but their heads were never located.

State police are overseeing the new search that began after information submitted from a former member of the National Guard who unit that helped locate the bodies 52 years ago.

Geoffrey Fuller, co-author of the book “The WVU Coed Murders: Who Killed Mared and Karen?”, which was originally published last fall said he knows the man who submitted the new information to investigators.

“He’s a very earnest, hardworking man and he had developed his own theories from a new reading of some information we had put in the book and with that he had come up with other theories of the crime,” Fuller said during an interview Monday on MetroNews “Talkline.”

The Morgantown Dominion Post newspaper was the first to report on the new efforts.

“It’s an ongoing investigation and definitely worth our time and effort to be here,” retired state police Lt. Michael Kief told the newspaper. “We want to see full closure.”

Sarah James McLaughlin, who co-authored the book with Fuller, said it is important to continue to look for what’s never been found.

“It’s important because these girls still matter and we don’t really know what happened to them and even if a lot of their family members are gone there’s still a lot of people who were very close to them and really care and hope they can get some closure in this case,” McLaughlin said on “Talkline” Monday.

Fuller agreed.

“It happened when I was a kid and a lot of people have been wondering about it in the back of their minds for 50 years.

Fuller said searching someplace for something after more than 50 years may prove impossible to find but he believes the teams are looking in the right place, south of Morgantown near Goshen Road.

“It’s near where the bodies were found and where a lot of the stuff was distributed that was taken from the girls—-so it makes sense,” Fuller said.

Malarik and Ferrell were freshmen students and were in downtown on a night in January 1970 when they decided to catch a ride back to their dorm. They were never seen alive again.

Eugene Paul Clawson, who originally confessed to the murders and then recanted, was convicted in two separate trials.

Both Fuller and McLaughlin have concluded in their podcast series that it was someone else who murdered Malarik and Ferrell.

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First state champions in robotics crowned in SSAC-sanctioned event

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — West Virginia has its first SSAC state champions in robotics.

After an full day of competition at Fairmont State University, Parkersburg High School, the 12-seed, earned the first-ever title with a win over Wheeling Park. Teams from Capital High and Brooke High were also in the finals.

Bernie Dolan

“It’s a competition, they’re competing hard,” West Virginia SSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan told MetroNews earlier Monday. “You watch them it’s pretty intense out there and we’re excited to have them to be a part of the WVSSAC.”

Planning to hold the event at Fairmont State began about three years ago, according to President Mirta Martin.

“Robots do not have integrity or honor- humanity does,” Martin said. “So, part of having these competitions is instilling in our students a sense of right and wrong.”

All WVSSAC-affiliated schools can compete with no qualification event or requirement. Teams of students from multiple grade levels design, build and troubleshoot their robot. Teams compete against the clock to complete or successfully repeat a specific task, or in some cases points are awarded for obstructing another team.

Mirta Martin

The teams are made up of students from multiple grades and areas of expertise designed to compliment each other. Each team requires people with mechanical skills/knowledge, technical ability, hand/eye coordination and math skills.

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito and Congresswoman Carol Miller were on hand along with NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy and Morgantown-born Astronaut Drew Morgan.

Capito noted each team member has a role that is vital to the performance of the whole.

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. , (U.S. Senate Photography)

“This is attractive to kids all of the state because everybody can participate,” Capito said.

It’s up to the student team to design the robot from the ground up- power source, mobility and tools for the system to enable it to complete the specified task.

During his remarks Manchin told the students the skills they are learning will play a major role in the development and application of advanced technology that will have a major influence on our economy.

“These are problem solvers- these kids are learning how to work as a team to solve a problem that can be very challenging,” Manchin said. “This is really what it takes, in any endeavor in life you’re going to have to work as a team.”

Dr. Andrew Morgan
By NASA

Morgan was born in Morgantown, a graduate of the West Point Military Academy and veteran of Army Special Operation forces has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa. In 2019, Morgan served as the flight engineer of a mission that was to last six months. However, that mission was extended to nine months and Morgan completed seven space walks lasting more than 45 hours- a record for a single American space flight.

“I represented many things and one of those was the state of West Virginia being born in Morgantown,” Morgan said. “It really warms my heart to see that so many of our legislators here in West Virginia are investing in our students at this age.”

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Grove makes Wheeling community proud with MLB debut

WHEELING, W.Va. — Michael Grove’s road to the show took him from the fields in Wheeling, West Virginia to the iconic Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles with many stops in between — and those in the ‘Friendly City’ are celebrating his journey.

His fans in Wheeling and around the Mountain State were glued to the game on Sunday as Grove made his MLB debut. The Wheeling Park graduate was the starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Philadelphia Phillies. Grove was called up to the big league roster for a spot start and picked up a no decision in the Dodgers’ 5-4 win over the Phillies.

Dwaine Rodgers, the Athletic Director at Wheeling Park told MetroNews there was one word that kept coming to his mind while watching Grove – belong.

“He (Grove) belonged. He just belonged. He looked like he belonged there. We are just so proud,” Rodgers said.

According to Wheeling Park historian Pete Chacalos, Grove was the first Wheeling Park graduate to start in a major league game. Grove led the Patriots to the state tournament appearances in 2014 and 2015.

Mike McLeod, who coached Wheeling Park baseball during Grove’s time in the red, white, and blue, told MetroNews he couldn’t be much happier.

Mike McLeod pictured with Michael Grove at a minor league game in 2019. Photo from Ohio County Schools.

“You are just so proud that you were able to be a small part of what he was able to do moving forward. When you get a guy that is able to do that, he makes the whole area, valley and the whole town proud,” McLeod said.

McLeod, who coached at Wheeling Park from 2013-2019, said he stays in contact with Grove and talks to him at least once a week. He said conversations often end with phrases such as ‘love you’ or ‘care about you’ because that’s the connection he has with Grove.

McLeod said Grove keeps those connections in Wheeling and does not forget where he comes from, and that is part of what makes him special.

“Michael is just one of those kids where if you ever wanted your son to model themselves after someone, it would be him,” McLeod said. “He doesn’t forget where he comes from, he’s still best buddies with people he grew up across the street from. Michael is not just a former player but he is a friend.”

McLeod said he knows through personal experience just how tough it is getting to the big leagues. He was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the ’90s and said he was never able to make it to the level that Grove is at now.

Grove was selected by the Dodgers in the second round of the 2018 draft with the 68th pick. The selection was special as it came after Grove underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2017.

Grove pitched 3 2/3 innings on Sunday, allowing four hits and four runs. However, none of the runs were earned. A fielding error by Gavin Lux with two out extended the second inning. Grove walked three batters and struck out three in 70 total pitches, as MetroNews reported Sunday.

“He knows it’s a long road. That was a good sample size. Michael is like Michael. If you saw his interview he’s not pointing the fingers at anyone else. He’s saying ‘Hey I have to be better in that situation.’ That’s who he is,” McLeod said.

In five starts this season with the Class AA Tulsa Drillers, Grove posted a 2.76 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings. He was recalled from Tulsa on Sunday. Grove remains on the 40-man roster but McLeod said it is likely he gets sent to AAA Oklahoma City in the coming days.

The 6-foot-3 right-hander spent three seasons at WVU from 2016-2018. Grove was an All-Big 12 Second Team selection as a sophomore in 2017, after being named to the league’s honorable mention list a year earlier.

At Wheeling Park in 2014, Grove had a 1.20 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 33.2 innings in 2014 while hitting .488. Grove was named to the 2014 West Virginia Sports Writer’s Association All-State First Team.

Grove, a multi-sport star in high school, was also named the 2014 OVAC Player of the Year. He is the son of Jeff and Stephanie Grove.

Rodgers, whose son Spencer played with Grove at Wheeling Park, said he knew early on that Grove was a special kid – based on the way he helped others at Wheeling Park.

“You can tell a lot about a young man of how they treat the kids younger than them. A lot of times you’ll see kids who are the stud, they are not always kind to the young ones. Coaches always reach out and say you need to be a leader and help the young guys. Michael was that guy,” Rodgers said.

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Three Guys Before The Game – Wes Ours Visits (Episode 378)

At somewhere between 285 and 300 pounds, Wes Ours steamrolled down the sideline to score the first touchdown in Don Nehlen’s last-ever football game.

It remains one of the most iconic plays in West Virginia football history.

The “Wes Express” keyed WVU to a Music City Bowl victory over Ole Miss.  More than two decades later, Wes Ours is still involved in the game he loves.

In this episode, Ours joins Brad Howe and Tony Caridi to discuss his career.  The self-described “military brat” lived in Germany, Hawaii, Texas and Colorado before settling in Maryland for his final years of high school.

It’s a walk down memory lane filled with fun stories and insight.

Join the “Guys” next week when they visit Clarksburg native and award-winning play-by-play announcer Mike Patrick.

Three Guys Before The Game is sponsored by Burdette Camping Center and Komax Business Systems.  Don’t forget to check out Three Guys merchandise.

Never miss an episode, it’s free, subscribe below.

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West Virginia National Guard member charged in Jan. 6 surge into U.S. Capitol

A member of the West Virginia National Guard has been charged in federal court for the surge into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Jamie Ferguson

Jamie Lynn Ferguson, 45, was charged last week in federal court with four federal charges: entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

Federal investigators began examining Ferguson’s activities on Jan. 14, 2021. The charges against her had been under seal until Friday. Ferguson was arrested Wednesday in Virginia, where she lives.

Ferguson has an initial appearance set for 1 p.m. Tuesday before Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Ferguson’s LinkedIn social media profile identifies her as a Martinsville, Va., resident and an aerospace medical technician for the West Virginia National Guard.

The West Virginia National Guard, in a statement, confirmed that “Technical Sgt. Jamie L. Ferguson is a part time, drill status guardsman assigned to the West Virginia Air National Guard.  As a matter of policy, the 130th Airlift Wing and the West Virginia National Guard do not comment on pending criminal charges.”

Ferguson came under scrutiny by Jan. 14, 2021, when the Department of the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations provided an investigative analysis report to the FBI indicating that Ferguson was suspected of unlawfully entering the U.S. Capitol with hundreds of others while members of Congress fulfilled their constitutional duty of certifying the presidential election.

A review of Ferguson’s leave requests confirmed that she was on leave from Jan. 5 to 7 that year, listing her destination as Washington, D.C. Agents reviewed her social media posts leading up to Jan. 6 and took note of an image of a crowd in front of the Capitol with a storm cloud above. She captioned the post, “I pray this is exactly what D.C. will look like on Jan. 6th. #HoldTheLine.”

Video footage showed a woman matching Ferguson’s description entering the east front Rotunda doors of the U.S. Capitol at 2:42 p.m. while wearing a dark blue hooded sweatshirt with the phrase “Yes, I’m a Trump Girl” in white block lettering and carrying an olive green backpack.

Footage shows her remaining in the Rotunda and its adjacent entryway until exiting at 3:33 p.m.

In an interview with investigators, Ferguson said she had been at a rally to support President Donald Trump from about 9 to 9:30 a.m. that day. After the rally concluded, her mother and father left but she went on to the U.S. Capitol, believing she would be able to see President Trump again.

She acknowledged to investigators that she entered the Capitol building and stayed for about 40 minutes.

Hundreds of people face charges from the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

A mob storming the U.S. Capitol that day disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “medical emergencies” and more than 100 police officers were injured.

Of the thousands of protesters in Washington, D.C., that day, about 800 went into the Capitol, police have said.

Several more West Virginians were charged in that day’s events.

They include George Tanios, a Morgantown sandwich shop operator accused in the assault of three Capitol police officers with pepperspray; former state Delegate Derrick Evans of Wayne County, who resigned after being charged; former Parkersburg councilman Eric Barber; Jeffery Finley of Martinsburg, the leader of West Virginia’s chapter of the Proud Boy right-wing militant group, and college senior Courtright of Hurricane.

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Traffic stop leads to biggest Greenbrier County drug bust in more than 25 years

RUPERT, W.Va. — Police in the small Greenbrier County community of Rupert swerved into the biggest drug bust in the town’s history over the weekend and according to the local drug task force it’s perhaps the biggest haul of illegal substances in the county for more than two decades.

“We found several one-pound bags of marijuana individually wrapped. Several jars of what they call ‘wax’ marijuana, what’s often called ‘dabs’ and there were the THC vape cartridges there. Just a little bit of everything,” said Rupert Police Chief Chuck Burkhammer.

What’s even more amazing is police sized more than $84,000 in cash and a couple of semi-automatic weapons. Police learned of the potential contraband at a home on Raleigh Street in Rupert after a routine traffic stop. Burkhammer said his officer pulled over a man for a traffic violation and discovered drugs in his possession. When asked where he got it, he told them and suggested they go there and they would find plenty more. Burkhammer said he wasn’t kidding.

“We got a search warrant and it was everywhere. We figured it was close to a quarter million dollars in product, plus the 84,000 dollars in cash,” he said.

The man who owned the home, Joshua Franklin, was arrested and taken to the Southern Regional Jail where he’s jailed in lieu of $50,000 bond. According to Burkhammer they so far have not released the identity of the suspect in the traffic stop. The chief believed Franklin was only a distributor and they are trying to learn more about his suppliers.

“He’s given us information of his supplier, but won’t give up his name. He just tells us where it comes from. It looks like most of it was coming through the U.S. Mail and coming from another state,” Burkhammer said.

The use of the mail and out of state suspects will bring federal investigators into the mix. For now, only Franklin is charged, but they hope to add others to the list.

“They had no clue of this guy being in an operation. Nobody on the streets had been talking about him so it was a total surprise. He had a pretty good set up. He would only deal with a few people and kept it under the radar,” said the Chief.

The radar broke down however when the wrong person got caught and alerted authorities about the source of contraband he had in his possession.

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Covid cases are rising in W.Va., and governor says that’s probably just part of the story

West Virginia’s covid-19 numbers are going back up, and Gov. Jim Justice and his top adviser suggest the actual numbers are probably much higher because so many people have access to home test kits now.

Dr. Clay Marsh

“We know this is most likely an underrepresentation of the true number of people infected because people either aren’t getting tested or are testing at home,” Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s coronavirus response adviser, said during a briefing today.

West Virginia listed its number of active cases today at 1,964.

Marsh and the governor noted that number is up significantly, an increase from the 1,296 active cases registered by the state one week ago. But they took note of other rising numbers such as a daily percent positivity now at 11.58 percent and a reproduction number above 1 to suggest there could be a wave affecting more people than the state’s figures are capturing.

“It’s surely a bigger number. That’s got to concern us,” Justice said. “These numbers have to be underinflated because of the home test kits that we have today that we didn’t have before.”

West Virginia’s hospitalizations attributed to covid-19 are up somewhat, now at 138. That’s significantly below the 1,097 hospitalizations recorded during a January peak.

West Virginia isn’t alone in an increase in covid-19 cases. Many places across the northeast have also experienced spikes. 

While encouraging state residents to continue seeking vaccinations or booster shots, Marsh said the current uptick is likely a spinoff of the omicron variant.

“We do see another surge that is happening both in the United States and in West Virginia,” Marsh said. “We see that this variant is continuing to change, to mutate, and those changes allow the virus to escape our immune system more easily.”

Justice, who has continued to participate in regular briefings about the status of the virus over the past two years, said covid is here to stay.

“The bottom line, without any doubt is, we’ve got to live with this,” Justice said. “We can live with it. It can absolutely be managed. The way to manage it, the way to live with it — booster shots, vaccinations, stay on top of your game, use our calculator that’s going to notify you as to when to get your shots.

“Absolutely, the way to live with this dreaded killer is to absolutely manage it.”

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Waste-to-fuel plant Entsorga In Martinsburg temporarily closed

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A little more than three years after opening its doors, Entsorga has temporarily closed them.

“On April 4th, they sent a letter saying that they would be temporarily closing.  They were doing some sort of financial review,” according to Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority Chair Clint Hogbin, who said that’s basically what he knows, as well.

“They are stressing that this is temporary, but we don’t whether that means one month, three months – we don’t know what that means.”

Entsorga WV is a waste-to-fuel operation that turns household trash into fuel for use by industry.

Hogbin said the company is another method of keeping waste materials out of landfills.

The company has been in operation in the Panhandle since 2019.

Its website touts the Martinsburg facility as “the nation’s first resource recovery facility in the United States to utilize a mechanical biological treatment process. The facility recovers biomass, plastics, and other carbon-based materials from the mixed municipal solid waste (MSW) stream and Commercial & Industrial (C&I) non-hazardous secondary materials and converts them into an EPA-recognized renewable fuel. During the process recyclable commodities such as metals are extracted and recovered in conjunction with Berkeley County’s current recycling program.”

That “Solid Recovered Fuel” can be used by large energy users and co-processing facilities like cement manufacturers and steel mills as a cost-effective alternative or supplement to fossil fuels.

The plant in Berkeley County has the capacity to process 110,000 tons of MSW/C&I waste and provide approximately 45,000 tons of “high-calorific value SRF” to a nearby cement plant, according to Entsorga’s website.

The Panhandle News Network has reached out to Entsorga for comment.

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Active COVID-19 cases hover around 2,000 mark in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Active COVID-19 cases are hovering around the 2,000 mark in West Virginia to begin the week.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) confirmed 1,964 active cases on Monday, a day after confirming 2,002 active cases. COVID-19 active cases in West Virginia have not been above 2,000 since March 5.

Current active cases per county: Barbour (11), Berkeley (124), Boone (16), Braxton (9), Brooke (18), Cabell (110), Calhoun (3), Clay (6), Doddridge (7), Fayette (54), Gilmer (2), Grant (1), Greenbrier (66), Hampshire (8), Hancock (30), Hardy (13), Harrison (102), Jackson (12), Jefferson (77), Kanawha (238), Lewis (12), Lincoln (21), Logan (49), Marion (111), Marshall (32), Mason (26), McDowell (15), Mercer (46), Mineral (19), Mingo (8), Monongalia (138), Monroe (27), Morgan (11), Nicholas (28), Ohio (73), Pendleton (16), Pleasants (2), Pocahontas (2), Preston (31), Putnam (70), Raleigh (129), Randolph (14), Ritchie (12), Roane (9), Summers (9), Taylor (20), Tucker (2), Tyler (11), Upshur (26), Wayne (37), Webster (2), Wetzel (5), Wirt (3), Wood (30), Wyoming (11). To find the cumulative cases per county, please visit www.coronavirus.wv.gov and look on the Cumulative Summary tab which is sortable by county.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are the most since early April, current figure at 138 patients. However, both patients in ICU and on ventilators are near pandemic lows, the DHHR dashboard reads.

The DHHR also confirmed the deaths of a 75-year old female from Berkeley County and a 75-year old female from Berkeley County on Monday. “Please note that these are two individuals with the same age and county, but are confirmed to be different people,” the DHHR said in a statement.

The statewide death total due to the virus sits at 6,895.

“This is an incredibly difficult time for the families and friends of these West Virginians,” said Bill J. Crouch, DHHR Cabinet Secretary. “We offer our sympathies to each and every person connected to these individuals.”

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WV lawmaker says “it’s all in their hands” for feds to increase production of baby formula

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The nationwide baby formula shortage has West Virginia parents and state lawmakers scrambling for supply.

Amy Summers

The problem is the state Legislature can’t do much to fix the problem, according to House Majority Leader Amy Summers (R-Taylor, 49).

“It’s very scary for parents that are trying to feed their children. Some people aren’t aware of it unless they’re looking for the product,” Summers said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

The shortage, caused by a mix of supply-chain problems and a recall, has led to empty shelves at most stores, and has forced many new mothers to push themselves harder to breastfeed.

Summers, a grandmother and health care professional, said she went to Morgantown to buy formula and then drove it down to her daughter in Charleston.

“It did take quite a few stores to visit and you can try to look online, but it might not be the specific formula your baby needs,” she said. “I finally found a can at Giant Eagle in Morgantown and I was very excited.”

Summers said she’s reached out to state Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad and others at the state Department of Health and Human Resources to better understand what can be done at the state level to address the needs of parents and their children.

The advice from the DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health has been for parents to contact their pediatrician, especially when it comes to switching formula brands.

“They’re saying just check with your pediatrician before you proceed and make sure everything is okay or if you are going to do something different, let’s talk about the process of how you do that,” Summers said.

West Virginia lawmakers at the state and federal level, including Del. Kayla Young (D-Kanawha, 35) and First District Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-W.Va.), have penned letters to the Biden administration demanding an increase in supply.

Summers has also reached out to Miller to gain perspective on the situation.

“What can we do to step up getting production back up? It’s all in their hands,” Summers said, referring to the Biden administration. “When I spoke to Congresswoman Miller that’s what she said they were doing is trying to press the federal government to move more quickly.”

The DHHR previously told MetroNews WIC (Women, Infants & Children) participants may be able to fulfill some of their monthly formula allowance from a WIC clinic. Typically, WIC is not allowed to issue formulas to participants from “stock” in the WIC clinic.

West Virginia is one of eight states across the U.S. at least 50 percent out of stock on baby formula, according to the Wall Street Journal. Nationally, 43 percent of formula is out of stock.

President Joe Biden announced a plan last week to get the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on profiteering, ensuring parents are able to use federal benefits on a wider range of formula products under WIC.

The White House is also pushing agencies to increase imports of baby formula from other countries.

Abbott Nutrition has said it could take up to ten weeks to get new products on shelves.

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