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Police announced Monday evening that the suspect in four murders which occurred Monday morning in West Virginia has been found. After an intense manhunt which lasted for hours, the gunman’s body was found with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police believe the shootings occurred on Monday morning between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Lt. Dennis Johnson, spokesman for police, relayed the news that the body of the suspect, 39-year-old Jody Lee Hunt, was discovered at approximately 7 p.m. in a southern area of Monongalia County in West Virginia in a wooded area. Johnson described the body as located in a “power line right of way.”
According to an earlier statement by the spokesman for the West Virginia police, Lt. Michael Baylous, the manhunt for Hunt began after a shooting in Monongalia County’s Cheat Lake area happened the same day as two others in the Westover area. Police warned the public during the search that Hunt was driving a black Ford truck and had blacked out the license plate. Hunt was considered to be armed and dangerous. Although several Monongalia County schools were put under lockdown, police say that no schools were targeted by Hunt or related to the shootings.
Killed in the Cheat Lake shooting were 39-year-old Sharon Kay Berkshire of Westover, and 28-year-old Michael David Frum of Maidsville. As of Monday evening, no information had been released by the sheriff’s office in Monongalia County, West Virginia, regarding the shooting that occurred there. According to Baylous, police do not know the extent of the relationship between the two victims, but it is known that they were acquainted. Frum’s aunt could give no further details regarding the death of her nephew, but said that he worked in Westover detailing cars and also did odd jobs and miscellaneous construction work.
Circuit Court records from Monongalia County indicate that Berkshire had filed a case against Hunt for domestic violence in November. She did not have any current orders for protection from Berkshire. Virginia court records show that Hunt was given a 10-year prison sentence in 1999 for kidnapping and using a firearm.
Westover police were called to a tow truck business on Monday for an emergency. Once there, they encountered a male gunshot victim. Records filed with the state show that Hunt owned a towing and repair business in Westover located only a few blocks away from where the first victim was found.
Also in Morgantown, police discovered the fourth victim, Jody Taylor, inside of a home on Sweet Pea Lane. Taylor was transported to a hospital where he later died.
A Westover resident reported hearing four gunshots just after 10 a.m. from a victim’s trailer. Because it is currently deer season, she assumed it was hunters firing the shots, realizing only later when she heard sirens that the shots were indicative of something much more sinister.
No further information is expected to be released on Monday night. Investigators who worked the three different crime scenes will meet on Tuesday to compare notes and share information in hopes of discovering how and why Hunt began his West Virginia killing spree before taking his own life.
By Jennifer Pfalz