HARRISONBURG – A Martinsburg, West Virginia, man, who used heroin as a means to control numerous women he trafficked as part of a commercial prostitution ring that operated in the Western District of Virginia, and elsewhere, was convicted this week following a jury trial in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen made the announcement in a Department of Justice news release.
Kendall Demarko Wysinger, 42, was convicted on Monday, January 14, 2019, of one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, one count of interstate transportation for prostitution, one count of distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, one count of distribution of fentanyl resulting in serious bodily injury, and one count of evidence tampering, following a six-day jury trial. At sentencing, Wysinger faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of life.
“An individual who preyed on vulnerable victims and destroyed numerous lives through opioid distribution and sex trafficking will now spend the better part of his life in federal prison,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated. “We are extremely grateful for the hard work and persistence of the FBI, the Virginia State Police, and our numerous local law-enforcement partners in bringing him to justice.”
“The I-81 Human Trafficking Task Force continues to work vigorously to identify and bring to trial the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, and partner with victim service providers to ensure victims are able to obtain the necessary care to recover and rebuild their lives,” said FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge, MaryJo Thomas.
According to evidence presented at trial, Wysinger operated a prostitution ring with at least six victims in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. Through the course of the conspiracy, Wysinger used heroin to coerce his victims into engaging in commercial sex and employed threats and intimidation to ensure he maintained power and control over those victims.
Wysinger routinely advertised these victims for commercial sex using online classified ads in Winchester, Virginia, and Shenandoah County, Virginia, and used social media accounts to target and recruit women into his sex-trafficking operation. The defendant demanded his victims provide him nearly all of the money they received from commercial sex in order to pay their drug debts to him and his charges for transporting them to prostitution dates.
On one occasion, in Winchester, VA, the heroin Wysinger distributed resulted in two overdoses. Wysinger gave what he said was heroin to one victim of his sex trafficking ring and her friend. The substance was actually fentanyl, a far more powerful synthetic opioid, and both victims overdosed after ingesting it. One victim died as a result of the fentanyl poisoning. Wysinger was with both victims when they overdosed and destroyed the evidence from the crime scene.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s I-81 Human Trafficking Task Force (I-81 HTTF), the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force (NWRDGTF). Assistant United States Attorneys Erin M. Kulpa and Rachel Swartz prosecuted the case for the United States.
The I-81 HTTF is a collaborative effort of law enforcement and community partners focused on identifying instances of human trafficking along the I-81 corridor in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland; prosecuting those responsible; and, providing assistance to the victims impacted by these crimes. The I-81 HTTF includes law enforcement from the counties of Frederick, Clarke, and Shenandoah as well as the cities and towns of Front Royal, Hagerstown, and Frederick, Maryland and Lord Fairfax Community College.
The NWRDGTF uses the combined efforts of local, state, and federal agencies to actively pursue those groups or individuals who manufacture, distribute, or sell illegal narcotics. The NWRDGTF is comprised of the Virginia State Police, the Winchester Police Department, the Front Royal Police Department, the Strasburg Police Department, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, the Page County Sheriff’s Office, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, and the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office.
Missing juvenile located, Arkansas man arrested
A 14-year-old Frederick County juvenile has been located safely and an Arkansas man is under arrest, at this time, facing various charges to include abduction. Rae-Anna Allen was last seen leaving her home in Winchester on Sunday, January 9th around 11:07am and was later reported missing by her family. Deputy J.A. Tanner and Investigator B.J. Hazelwood worked in tandem to attempt to locate Rae-Anna and began re-tracing her movements through digital forensics and with the assistance of other law enforcement agencies. Electronic footprints had shown a strong possibility that Rae-Anna was mobile in a vehicle and no longer in Frederick County, or the Commonwealth of Virginia, by early Sunday evening.
Law enforcement officials in Virginia and Tennessee began checking for video surveillance along the I-81 corridor, in areas where cellphone towers indicated Rae-Anna’s phone had recently been active. The hope was to spot the juvenile, and any person she may be with, or a vehicle she might be traveling in for a nationwide Amber Alert to be issued. The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office had over 3,000 social media post shares of Rae-Anna’s disappearance that reached over 170,000 people including the National Center for Missing and Endangered Children who then shared that information to thousands more.
A possible location for Rae-Anna 1,100 miles from Winchester, in Arkansas, was obtained and is where the Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office executed a search of a home overnight. Sheriff’s deputies found Rae-Anna in the company of 22-year-old Christopher Lane Stone of Hope, Arkansas and immediately took the male into custody. In Frederick County, Deputy Tanner obtained a warrant for abduction that was served on Stone by HCSO at 2:48 am. A follow-up investigation is being conducted by the Arkansas authorities and further charges, from that jurisdiction, are pending.
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office wishes to acknowledge and thank: The Virginia State police BCI High Tech Division, the Blountville (TN) Sheriff’s Office, the Green County (TN) Sheriff’s Office, the United States Marshalls Service, the National Center for Missing and Endangered Children and the Hempstead County (AR) Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Lenny Millholland is proud of the work of his people, and grateful for the support and assistance from the community in getting critical information on Rae-Anna out to so many people so quickly, resulting in locating and bringing this missing juvenile home safely.
New fencing up, Holloway’s ‘Dog Day’ in court ends with dismissal and payment of court costs
On the 10 a.m. Wednesday morning (Jan. 12) docket in Warren County General District Court, a misdemeanor charge of dogs running at large against Front Royal Mayor Chris Holloway was dismissed with payment of $104 in court costs. Holloway was not in court, but was represented by counsel John O’Neill. Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Lindsay LeHew represented the prosecution and Judge W. Dale Houff presided. The charge carries a maximum $200 fine.
Contacted outside the courtroom, O’Neill explained the resolution as typical of a defendant coming into compliance on this type of charge. He noted that Holloway’s construction of new fencing capable of holding his two large Bull Mastiffs on his Virginia Avenue property had been verified by involved Warren County Sheriff’s Office Deputy C.R. Clatterbuck and that the Commonwealth had been notified of the defendant’s effort to come into compliance in preventing future escapes of his two large canines.
Holloway’s summons was issued on Nov. 28 in the wake of a complaint by Holloway neighbor Cheryl Langlais after she and her adult son were charged by the dogs along Virginia Avenue, one of which was said to have grabbed ahold of the son’s clothing in an aggressive manner. When multiple previous complaints involving the Holloway’s dogs were noted by law enforcement the summons was issued.
Shooting death at Frederick County residence under investigation
At approximately 11:50 a.m. today (Dec. 30), a shooting was reported in the 100 block of Dick’s Hollow Road in Frederick County which has resulted in the death of one person.
- The Sheriff’s Office can confirm that a male subject was shot by the homeowner during some type of verbal or physical altercation.
- There were multiple subjects in the residence at the time with one subject fatally struck by gunfire.
- Early indications are that there was only a single shot fired.
- The subject who fired the weapon is in custody.
- There is no ongoing threat to the community currently.
- The identity of the victim is not being released pending notification of next of kin.
Details are limited at this time as this incident remains an active crime scene with law enforcement still processing evidence and speaking to witnesses and suspects. A more detailed press release will be forthcoming in the future.
Holloway cited in November dog charge
After numerous complaints of his large mastiff dogs running loose in the neighborhood Mayor Chris Holloway has been issued a summons to appear in Warren County Circuit Court on Jan. 12, 2022, at 10 a.m.
According to a November 28 citation issued by Warren County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant C.R. Clatterbuck, Holloway was charged with a single count of dogs running at large, which carries a maximum $200 penalty.
Clatterbuck’s incident report states he arrived in the area of Academy Drive and Virginia Avenue for a dog bite call and “observed two very large brown dogs in the middle of Academy Drive.” He wrote that he “observed a male subject (identified as Holloway) attempting to contain the dogs, but the dogs were not listening.” Once the dogs were contained and Clatterbuck spoke to Holloway, the dog owner “explained that his dogs were nice and did not bite anyone,” the report states.
The citizen who made the initial call for assistance, Cheryl Langlais, reached out to Royal Examiner the evening of the incident. She relayed that she and her adult son had been walking in their neighborhood when the dogs approached the pair in a menacing manner. She stated that the dogs had frequently roamed the neighborhood and she felt that the situation was “an accident waiting to happen”.
Langlais said in a telephone interview that the dogs were “growling and barking before grabbing my son’s arm and leg.” It was at that point that Langlais called police, hastily telling the dispatcher that the dog had “bitten my child” before ending the call and attempting to help her son.
Langlais explained that though the dog grabbed her son, its teeth had latched on to loose portions of his clothing and not penetrated to his skin. Clatterbuck’s report confirmed that there was no bite injury and noted that the dogs had “come up to them and nudged them hard.”
Upon speaking to Holloway, Clatterbuck writes in the report that “Mr. Holloway showed me in the rear of his fence, he had green fence post driven into the ground to attempt to contain the dogs due to a short fence issue.” Holloway, according to the incident report, stated that he had been pricing fencing at a local store and planned to install a new fence.
Following that conversation, Clatterbuck wrote that he contacted dispatch and “spoke to other deputies who both advised me we have dealt with the same issue with same dogs multiple times.” He stated that Holloway was issued a summons for dog at large and given information regarding available fencing.
Langlais told Royal Examiner that she had tried to be neighborly regarding Holloway’s dogs and had tried to help “round them up” in the past when they had escaped from the waist-high fence.
“All of this could have been avoided with an act of civility on Holloway’s part, had he simply apologized or inquired if everyone was okay. He is not neighborly, not a good citizen, particularly as a leader.”
Royal Examiner reached out to Holloway for comment, but he did not respond.
UPDATE: I-81 Rest Area Shooting Suspect Deceased; Investigation Remains Ongoing
The investigation continues into a shooting that occurred at a Frederick County Rest Area along Interstate 81 Sunday (Dec. 26) morning.
Shortly before 9:30 a.m., a man and woman became engaged in a domestic dispute at the southbound I-81 Rest Area at the 320-mile marker. When the dispute turned physical, several individuals who happened to be at the Rest Area tried to intervene for the woman’s safety. The 34-year-old male, Cesar Juarez Avila, then began firing at the woman and individuals who had intervened. The woman and three males were shot. Avila fled the Rest Area driving a Chevrolet Malibu.
The female and two male victims were transported to Winchester Medical Center for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. A third male victim was flown to Fairfax Inova Hospital for treatment of serious, but non-life-threatening, injuries.
State police, with the assistance of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, secured the Rest Area and began actively following up on leads concerning Avila’s whereabouts.
Shortly after 12 p.m. Sunday, a Frederick County Sheriff’s Deputy spotted the Chevrolet Malibu traveling on Airport Road in Frederick County. When the sheriff’s deputy and state police pulled in behind the Chevrolet, it sped away and a short pursuit ensued. Law enforcement positioned their vehicles around the suspect vehicle and forced it to a stop. When the Malibu came to a stop, law enforcement witnessed shots being fired inside the Malibu. When troopers approached the vehicle, they located Avila in the driver’s seat suffering from a gunshot wound.
Avila was transported to Winchester Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries. Avila’s body was transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Manassas for autopsy and examination.
No law enforcement discharged their weapons during the course of the incident. A handgun was recovered from inside the Malibu.
The incident remains under investigation by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Culpeper Field Office.
The I-81 southbound Rest Area was reopened to the public at approximately 4 p.m. Sunday.
Virginia State Police investigating deputy-involved shooting in Rappahannock County
At the request of Rappahannock County Sheriff Connie Compton, Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins, and Madison County Sheriff Erik Weaver, the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Culpeper Field Office is investigating a pursuit and shooting that involved their personnel.
At 5:30 p.m. Friday (Dec. 17, 2021), the Town of Culpeper Police Department issued a “Be On the Lookout” to regional law enforcement for Jeremy A. Yates, 21, of Culpeper, Va. An Emergency Custody Order (ECO) had been obtained for him and it was believed that he may be armed with a gun.
At approximately 9 p.m., a Madison County Sheriff’s Deputy observed a 2018 Chevrolet Colorado stopped in the roadway on Rt. 231 (Etlan Rd) in Madison County. As deputies from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office approached the Chevrolet, Yates sped away and a pursuit ensued. During the course of the pursuit, Yates began firing shots at passing vehicles. When the pursuit continued north on Rt. 231 into Rappahannock County, a Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Deputy became involved in the pursuit. It was during this time that Yates fired and struck a Rappahannock County Deputy’s vehicle multiple times.
As Yates was driving south on Rt. 707 (Slate Mills Rd) near the intersection of Rt. 644 (Reva Rd) – which is inside the Rappahannock County but right at the Culpeper County line – he began shooting at Culpeper County Sheriff’s Deputies who were stopped in the roadway and facing north on Slate Mills Road. The Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office personnel returned fire. The Chevrolet Colorado then ran off the left side of the road, collided with an embankment, and overturned.
Deputies attempted to render first aid, but Yates died at the scene. His remains were transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Manassas for examination and autopsy.
Two handguns were recovered from the Chevrolet Colorado.
No deputies or other persons were injured during the incident. No citizens have reported their vehicles being struck by bullets from when Yates was firing at other vehicles.
The investigation remains ongoing at this time.
Anyone with additional information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation at 540-829-7400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.