Cumberland Times-News

Local News

September 28, 2013

Suspects dragged Slanesville man’s body for several miles

Chief deputy commends witness for tips

SLANESVILLE, W.Va. — The body of a Hampshire County man who was reportedly killed inside his residence was then dragged by the suspects behind their vehicle for a distance of three to four miles, according to the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office.

The information was released late Friday afternoon by the sheriff’s office concerning the circumstances of the death of Michael F. O’Hara — and the subsequent arrest of his estranged wife, Mandy Lee O’Hara, 36, and John Shoemaker, 21, on first-degree murder charges and Gabriella Clutter, 21, who was charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

O’Hara, Shoemaker and Clutter, who resided together at a residence in Capon Springs, remained jailed late Saturday afternoon at the Potomac Highlands Regional Jail in Augusta.

According to the sheriff’s office, Mandy O’Hara and Shoemaker entered Michael O’Hara’s residence on Hickory Corner Road by unknown means and then stabbed him in the throat.

The slaying is believed to have occurred in a bedroom of the residence sometime between 4 and 5:20 a.m. on Thursday.

The West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office determined O’Hara, who was in his 30s, suffered a stab wound to his throat that killed him, according to Hampshire County Chief Deputy Nathan Sions.

After the killing, the suspects then allegedly wrapped the victim’s body in plastic, tied it to the back of their vehicle and drove away.

A citizen traveling on the roadway near the residence then observed the vehicle pulling the body along the roadway.

Along the way, the body became detached from the vehicle and was observed in the roadway by a passerby.

At that point, the passerby reportedly briefly encountered the suspects before they sped away — with the passerby in pursuit until he lost sight of the vehicle.

The eyewitness then drove to a location near Hickory Corner Road where he could get a cell signal to call 911.

At the same time, the suspects reportedly returned to retrieve the victim’s body. They tied it to the back of their vehicle and dragged it to the North River where they hid the body beneath a tree and then drove across the shallow river in their vehicle to return to their Capon Bridge residence via Cold Stream Road, police said.

It was the citizen’s telephone call, a description of the suspect vehicle and other timely information that led investigators to the victim’s body and ultimately to the suspects’ residence, where all three suspects were arrested without incident.

“We commend the action taken by the eyewitness on the information he was able to relay to responding deputies and investigators,” said Sions.

In another development, Sions said investigators have determined a possible motive in the case, but he declined to elaborate.

Police have also recovered a knife that was possibly used in the slaying along with other evidence.

Investigators said Mandy O’Hara had moved out of the couple’s residence in Slanesville several months ago, according to police.

Jeffrey L. Alderton may be contacted at jlalderton@times-news.com.

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