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Crime/Court

Winchester police investigating Sunday homicide

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Winchester police are investigating a homicide after a city man was fatally shot multiple times Sunday night.

Winchester spokeswoman Amy Simmons stated in a press release that the shooting occurred at 10:53 p.m. on Sunday, December 23 in the 300 block of Smithfield Avenue.

The release stated that when officers arrived on the scene, victim Jerry Wayne Reid, Jr., 40, was found inside his home, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

Winchester Fire and Rescue units transported Reid to Winchester Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Police say there were two witnesses were home at the time of the shooting, described by police as “a roommate and an acquaintance.”

Investigators say they do not currently have a motive or a suspect in the crime; they believe the shooting was an isolated incident.

According to witnesses on Smithfield Avenue, three masked people were attempting to break into houses along that street before coming to Reid’s home. When the alleged burglars kicked in the door of Reid’s home, witnesses say Reid confronted them and was subsequently shot.

Police say this is the first homicide in the city since 2015, when Nija Johnson, of Winchester, was indicted on January 24, 2015, on a second-degree murder charge related to the deather of her infant daughter, Natalia Johnson.

The Winchester Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Department at 540-662-4131 or the anonymous tip line at 540-665-TIPS.

Crime/Court

Martinsburg man convicted of sex trafficking, distributing fatal doses of fentanyl and evidence tampering

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Kendall Demarko Wysinger was convicted of a number of crimes this week, including distribution of fentanyl resulting in death in Winchester.

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.

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Crime/Court

Front Royal resident arrested for attempting offenses involving children

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Demond A. Lightfoot, a 21-year-old Front Royal resident. Photo/Front Royal Police Department

On December 13, 2018, Front Royal Police Department received a report that an adult male was attempting to solicit underage females into meeting with him and engaging in inappropriate activities. The communication was made through Snapchat, a phone application. On 12/18/2018, a joint operation was conducted by the Front Royal Police and Warren County Sheriff’s office detectives at a local motel, where the suspect believed he was meeting with a 13-year old female to engage in illicit sexual activities. The male suspect was arrested upon his arrival at the motel room where both agreed to meet.

Demond A. Lightfoot, a 21-year-old Front Royal resident, was charged with § 18.2-374.3 – Use of Communications Systems to Facilitate Certain Offenses Involving Children. Court date for this offense is set for 01/10/2019 at 9:00am in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. Lightfoot was additionally charged with violation of his probation and is being held at the RSW Regional Jail without bond. Anyone with any further information in reference to this matter is asked to contact Detective Z.M. King at (540) 636-2208 or zking@frontroyalva.com.

We would like to take this opportunity to urge parents of underage juveniles to please monitor the usage of their children’s social media accounts. It is often a tool or resource criminals use to solicit or groom your children into illegal activity.

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Crime/Court

Child endangerment and drug arrest in Linden

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Ashley Secor and Misty Morris. Photo courtesy of RSW Regional Jail.

On December 13, 2018 at approximately 3:56 pm Warren County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call in reference to a cardiac arrest at Linden residence on Rambo Lane. The caller also advised that there was an infant in the residence and she was unaware of who the infant belonged to. Upon arrival, Deputies observed CPR being performed on a female lying on the front porch. The female was later identified as 39 year old Misty Morris who resides at that address.

Deputy Stevens assessed Morris’ condition, administered one dose of four milligrams of Naloxone and CPR was continued. Morris slowly began showing signs of a positive reaction to the Naloxone and a second four milligram dose was administered. Morris regained full consciousness and refused medical treatment from Warren County Fire and Rescue personnel.

The caller exited the residence and informed the Deputies that there was another female in the basement. Deputies located and detained 32 year old Ashley Secor of Paw Paw Drive, Front Royal, VA in the locked basement bathroom. Secor is the mother of the 13 month old infant that was left unattended upstairs.

Northwest Regional Drug Task Force Agents and Warren County Department of Social Services were contacted and responded to the scene. The father of the 13 month old was located and responded to take custody of his child.

Secor was arrested and charged with the following:

Distribution of schedule I narcotic
Possession of schedule I narcotic
Possession of drug paraphernalia
Felony child endangerment

Morris was arrested and charged with the following:

Conspiracy to distribution schedule I narcotic
Possession of schedule I narcotic
Possession of drug paraphernalia
Felony child endangerment

Both females were transported to RSW Regional Jail and are currently being held without bond.

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Crime/Court

ATF raid results in 19 arrests for drug and firearm violations

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House on South Royal Ave, Front Royal was one location raided by ATF early in morning last week. Photo by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Thomas T. Cullen, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Thomas L. Chittum III, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington DC Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, and Sheriff Timothy Carter announced this morning (December 13th) that the following persons (19) were arrested in December 2018 on Sealed Federal Indictments. Also listed are three additional persons who were arrested for state narcotics charges during this operation.

Jonathan L. Hodges, 30 years old, of Front Royal, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substances

William R Shoemaker, Jr. 45 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Katie L. Harlow, 27 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Dana M. Silvious, 29 years old, of Maurertown, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Erica N. Lam, 29 years old, of New Market, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine

Brandon W. Eppard, 28 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Maintaining Drug Related Premises

Tiffany Bowman-Lopez, 30 years old, Quicksburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Six (6) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Amanda J. Mullins, 30 years old, Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Anthony Testerman, 25 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances

Kenneth J. Webb, 36 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Dietrich M. Day II, 28 years old, of Dumfries, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance


The following individuals were arrested on Tuesday 11, 2018 on Sealed Federal Indictments:

Jeffrey C. Mays, 32 years old, of Basye, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession of Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking Crime

Javon E. Cook, 26 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance
  • Use and Carry Firearm during Drug Trafficking Crime

Michael L. Mullins, 32 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Christian M. Burhop, 27 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance w/TBL
  • Four (4) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Justin T. Mumaw, 26 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Brooke N. McIntosh, 27 years old, no fixed address

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine

Christopher T. Trimble Fishersville, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Additional Federal Arrest Warrant:

Merle Stephens, 50 years old, of Basye, VA

  • Possession with Intent to Distribute
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person
  • Possession of Firearm in Furtherance Drug Trafficking Crime

SCSO arrested the following on State charges:

John K. Barb, 38 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Possession of Methamphetamine

Christopher A. Miller, 31 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Possession of a Controlled Substance

Felicia A. Gainer, 31 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Two (2) Possession of Controlled Substance
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Crime/Court

Bonds set in Christendom College arson-vandalism cases

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christendom fire

Ryan Farrell anf Christopher Shanahan / Courtesy Photos RSW Jail

FRONT ROYAL – Two Christendom College students facing multiple charges for setting fire to a common-access campus dorm bathroom on December 6 were in Warren County General District Court on Tuesday, December 11.

Ryan Farrell, 23, and Christopher Shanahan, 20, face identical charges of Arson, burning of an occupied building; Arson, burning or destroying personal property; Vandalism, entering property of another for purpose of damaging it; and Trespass with intent to damage property or interfere with property rights; Petit larceny, under $200; and § 18.2-415 – Disorderly conduct in public places.

In addition, Shanahan was also charged with one count of Underage Possession of Alcohol.

The arson and vandalism charges are felonies, the others misdemeanors.

During the Tuesday hearing, both Farrell and Shanahan saw bond set at $2500, with court dates of April 10, 2019, set at 1:15 p.m. Court records indicate that Farrell was represented by Todd Gilbert and Shanahan by Jerry Talton.

An online search of the RSW Jail inmate locator program indicated Farrell and Shanahan were no longer inmates as of December 12.

See related story: Two Christendom College students charged in campus dorm arson

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Crime/Court

Tenney animals released for adoption, child endangerment charges certified

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Brian and Wendy Tenney following their arrests earlier this autumn on child endangerment and animal cruelty charges / Photos courtesty RSW Regional Jail.

FRONT ROYAL – Following a two-and-a-half hour hearing regarding a variety of charges against former commercial kennel owners Wendy and Brian Tenney, Warren County General District Court Judge W. Dale Houff granted the commonwealth’s petition that 28 surviving animals seized during a September 12 search of the Tenney property be released for adoption by the Humane Society of Warren County.

Houff also certified 12 felony counts – one for each of the six Tenney children under the age of 18 filed against each parent – to the Warren County Grand Jury convening on January 14. Those charges of “Labor-Cruelty and Injuries to Children” or child endangerment and neglectful care relate to the conditions within the Tenney residence discovered during the September 12 execution of the search warrant by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
Following the closing of the commonwealth and defense presentation of witnesses and evidence regarding the petitions, Judge Houff paused to study the many photographs of the Tenney property, residence and shed, the latter where the majority of dogs were discovered, introduced into evidence by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Anna Hammond.

First addressing the felony counts related to the Tenney children, the judge said he did not question that those children were loved by their parents. However, he disputed defense counsel’s contention that what was found that day was “a snapshot” of a specific moment in time that did not reflect how the Tenney’s normally lived.

The judge also disputed a defense assertion that a lack of chronic health problems in the children indicated that they did not normally live in the type of filth discovered in the home that day.

“I do not believe that child endangerment or neglectful care requires the commonwealth to sit back until something happens,” Houff said of potential health consequences of living in close proximity to rotting food, animal waste, mold and insect infestation.

What the prosecution presented from the testimony of law enforcement personnel at the scene and photographs taken by investigators was what the judge termed “such an array of chaos” that it could not simply be dismissed as a momentary aberration without further scrutiny at a higher level, first before a grand jury and then if further certified likely before a jury of the Tenney’s peers.

In fact, the judge pointed to one prosecution photograph with a sign posted on a wall in the Tenney residence that read “To You This May Be Chaos, To Us It Is Family” to question what exactly the Tenney’s considered acceptable chaos.

Three Sheriff’s Office deputies, including Animal Control Deputy Laura Gomez and Investigators Brad Pugh and Allen Smoot testified to what they described as horrid conditions in both the enclosed shed where the dogs were kept penned and residence where one dog and most cats were discovered and in which the Tenneys and their seven children, one over 18, lived.

Those conditions included animal feces and urine, some developing mold or signs of worms, wasting food and trash on the floor and a general stench and smell of ammonia so bad they could continue searches only in five-minute increments even with ventilators on due to the strength of the stench. One officer testified that several of the Tenney children were barefoot and had to step over feces in their bare feet.

Under cross-examination, Animal Control Deputy Gomez admitted that on previous inspections of Tenney’s property as recent as March or April conditions had been normal, clean and acceptable. Defense counsel also pointed out that Mrs. Tenney had asked Gomez to allow her to clean up after she called for the search warrant but had not been allowed to do so.

But under redirect examination, Gomez noted that her previous inspections of the Tenney kennel or property had always been scheduled in advance – “This was unscheduled,” the animal control officer observed.

Discovered on that unscheduled inspection according to Deputy Pugh was a dining room containing “a litter box in the corner with mold on the feces”; a kitchen with “rotted food on countertops with mold” and flies congregating; one bathroom in the residence with a tub and toilet of various shades of brown; and children’s bedrooms “with sheets almost brown with filth”; and “food everywhere.”

Animals & restitution
As for the court’s ruling on the surviving Tenney Australian Shepherd dogs and the cats’ release for adoption, Judge Houff revisited his ruling on the felony child endangerment counts certification to the grand jury.

Noting an absence of malnutrition in the dogs cited by the defense in cross-examination of the humane society shelter director, the judge again noted the Commonwealth wasn’t bound to wait to act to correct a situation until dire negative consequences were visible.
As for what was visible – Gomez described newspapers on top of individual dog kennel cages “saturated in feces, urine and food” inside a closed shed without water or any sign they had been allowed out to what she testified appeared to be unused, clean kennels outside.

Australian Shepherd / Courtesy of AKC Club

Upon the court ruling to release the Tenney animals for adoption by the Humane Society of Warren County (HSWC) “in the best interest of the animals” the issue of restitution was raised. That restitution to date was cited as $39,705 to the HSWC for shelter care and $2,034 to the sheriff’s office for veterinary care.

Defense counsel said he did not know if his clients, both seated with him at the defense table, would appeal the court’s ruling. Neither Brian nor Wendy Tenney spoke during the hearing. Three Tenney children and Wendy Tenney’s parents were present. Tenney’s mother, who took custody of the children when they were ordered removed from the home on September 12, was one of two defense witnesses.

The defendants have 10 days to decide to appeal and 30 days to prepare an appeal filing should they choose that path.

Judge Houff set a $5,000 appeal bond, saying he did not feel it fair to impose the full restitution amount in order to file an appeal.

However, if they do not appeal, the judge filed an order of restitution for the full amount of $41,739 in his decision, stating he believed the county boarding and treatment of the animals was due to actions of the defendants. A conversation between the kennel manager and prosecutors after court was adjourned at 4:57 p.m. indicated a $15 per day fee per animal for boarding at the shelter, other than the first-day intake which is a $25 daily charge.

It was noted that since the Tenney animals were seized, one cat and one dog had been put down due to fatal feline or canine illness issues. But with 28 animals still boarded, if our calculating is accurate that is a $420 per day boarding fee be added to that restitution total. In making his restitution ruling, Houff noted he would not include interest in the previous costs, only from the date of his ruling.

Houff also ruled that the Tenney’s could own “up to four” dogs and “up to four” cats in the future as household pets. He said he did not think it fair to deprive the family and children of the pleasure of pet companionship if they so desired. And while he did not add a prosecution-requested condition that any future Tenney pet be spayed or neutered, he did say the four of each maximum was a hard line that could not be crossed once any resulting puppies or kittens were old enough to be separated from their mother.

See related story: Animal Cruelty charges added to those facing Wendy and Brian Tenney

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