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  1. #1
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    WV - Lynn Priestly, 34, Charleston, 21 March 1990

    Lynn Priestly was a beautiful 34-year-old professional woman who served as the Assistant Director of the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority. She was found strangled on the bank of the Kanawha River east of Marmet on March 21, 1990.

    What is known is that Priestly and her then boyfriend, Tom White, had had a very public--and loud--argument earlier that evening that was heard by several witnesses. According to the CPD, the argument "escalated into a physical altercation." Though questioned, White was never charged.

    I have made a formal Freedom of Information request to view the open police file on the Priestly murder through Major Jason Beckett at CPD. I will report my findings here, as this case may be included in my article "Capital Crimes."
    Last edited by Kanawha City Frank; 02-25-2013 at 01:15 PM.

  2. #2
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    Have you had any reaction on your FOIA request? I am also interested to hear what her family and Tom's family believe happened that evening.
    email me


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  3. #3
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    Some social media links

    Charleston Police Cold Case Facebook Page

    AETV Cold Case Message Board

    Does anyone have any copies of articles that were published at the time of her murder?
    Last edited by believe09; 03-02-2013 at 09:51 AM.
    email me


    Long Lost Love: The Bob Harrod Story Disappeared/ID Network
    Amazon: Purchase Long Lost Love $1.99


    Bob Harrod SAR


    “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
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  4. #4
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    In April of 2010, 62 year-old Kathy Goble disappeared from Charleston. In April of 2012, her remains were found at the home of 60 year-old Charles Eugene March. He has subsequently been found guilty of her murder.

    Some similarities--- Goble and March worked at Kelly's Men Shop in Charleston, about 1/2 to 3/4 mile from the Town Center where Lynn was last seen.
    Priestly's body was found in nearby Chesapeake-- March lived in Chesapeake (this is where Goble's remains were discovered). According to a neighbor, he had known March for some 27 years, placing March there when Priestly disappeared.
    Both Goble and Priestly had been strangled to death (Goble was later dismembered and buried on March's property).

    Looking at the CPD's cold case FB page, I now see a few others in the area have made this connection as well. Its unknown if LE has looked into it whatsoever.

    This is the only article I've come up with so far...
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=oqVDAAAAIBAJ&sjid=5q4MAAAAIBAJ&pg=10 04,4536872&dq=lynn-priestly&hl=en

  5. #5
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    Thanks, shadowangel!!! I would love to know what LE thinks. That is a really interesting twist.

    I didnt realize that she was naked and dumped in the river.

    (I edited my above post with a working link to the CPCC facebook page.)
    email me


    Long Lost Love: The Bob Harrod Story Disappeared/ID Network
    Amazon: Purchase Long Lost Love $1.99


    Bob Harrod SAR


    “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
    ― Maya Angelou

  6. #6
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    It's my understanding she was found beside the river, but the few articles found so far are a little ambiguous. It's not clearly stated if she was on the bank or in the water.

  7. #7
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    I wonder if her clothing was ever found?
    email me


    Long Lost Love: The Bob Harrod Story Disappeared/ID Network
    Amazon: Purchase Long Lost Love $1.99


    Bob Harrod SAR


    “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
    ― Maya Angelou

  8. #8
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    Lets pile on a few more coincidences, shall we?

    In July of 2006, then 21 year-old Melanie Metheny dropped her kids off at daycare in Belle WV. She was never seen again. Her van was later located in Charleston.

    Belle and Chesapeake are basically across from each other on the Kanawha River. The location where Metheny's van was located is a little over a 1/2 mile from the Kelly Mens Clothes store.
    Last edited by shadowangel; 03-02-2013 at 03:43 PM.

  9. #9
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    Great stuff! I'll tell you what Major Beckett and Captain Hill think: the boyfriend.

    Now, ask yourself a couple of questions:

    (1) Why was she nude? (EVIDENCE ON CLOTHING?)
    (2) Was there any evidence of sexual assault on victim? It would not be unusual for the BF's semen to be inside victim. Was there outher biological evidence?

    My request for the records has been processed and I will post my findings here when I have them.
    Last edited by Kanawha City Frank; 03-03-2013 at 04:48 PM.

  10. #10
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    But was Lynn's clothing ever found? It might be hold back information. I wonder if there is a rape kit any where that was processed for her?
    email me


    Long Lost Love: The Bob Harrod Story Disappeared/ID Network
    Amazon: Purchase Long Lost Love $1.99


    Bob Harrod SAR


    “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
    ― Maya Angelou


  11. #11
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    Update:

    Due to the fact that I am a complete idiot when it comes to computers, my request was not received by Major Beckett until just now. I was on the phone with him and he had not received the request because I left a "t" off his name on the email address. My bad!

    But he has it now, and while I am at the Kanawha County Courthouse tomorrow, I'll stop by his office at CPD with a hard-copy request for records. I'm also looking into the Kanawha County SO reports on the crime. I do not know if there are any, but she was found outside the city of Charleston, so I suspect the KCSO was first on scene, and there are indeed case files.

    The CPD is vitally interested in clearing cold cases.

    I told Major Beckett about the responses to this thread and will forward this link to his office.

    Thank you again for responding.

    Frank

  12. #12
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    The boyfriend in Lynn's case is the obvious first choice, and that's the primary reason I'd look elsewhere. I'm quite sure LE took the guy's life apart and if they couldn't find enough to get an indictment...

    Besides, to me it just doesn't feel right. (That's the great thing about WS, we can play our feelings just like LE does the evidence). If it had been the boyfriend, I'd expect her to have been beaten fairly severely, and that's not mentioned (and that's the kind of detail the media would love to pass on). And, regardless of his anger, I don't see him leaving her nude where she could be easily found. An abusive boyfriend would consider Lynn his property, not to be "shared" with anyone else. On the other hand, if the idea was to shame her-- The way she was dumped still doesn't seem to fit.

    The scenario as I see it... Lynn was distraught from the earlier fight with the boyfriend. She was out, on her own, and might have been a little more vulnerable to the approach of a seemingly friendly face than she otherwise would have. She was looking for a little companionship, some understanding, and the person she had the misfortune to run into had other plans. Its possible that things did progress to a point, where at Lynn said stop. Her attacker then let his emotions get the best of him. Strangulation is more an act of passion, of the moment, than something planned. When her attacker realized what he had done, he disposed of her clothes- maybe thinking evidence, maybe out of his own shame of what he had done- Then got rid of her body in a place he considered somewhat secluded so that he could get away but Lynn would still be found.

    That's all speculation on my part of course. What struck me about the death of Kathy Goble is that this could be a similar scenario. She was attacked by someone she had worked with for about ten years, but he (March) could have believed he saw a change in her view of him. Taking action on her perceived feelings for him, Kathy rebuffed him and paid for it with her life. By that time, March had had time to work on his method of disposal.

  13. #13
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    Excellent insight in paragraph two!

    I will definitely share that with the case worker. The whole scenario you mention feels good to a historian. I wish I were more on your all's level here, and I hope to get there.

  14. #14
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    I visited the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office in Charleston yesterday and spoke off the record to one of the Patrol Division Officers who first saw the dump site where Lynn Priestley’s body was found near the city limits of Chesapeake (east of Marmet) some ten miles from where she went missing on the night of March 21, 1990.

    The officer asked that I not use his name and I will honor that request.
    He told me that the body was nude, face down within ten feet or so of the Kanawha River itself. There was some blood evidence found near the body. It is his belief that the blood came from when the body was thrown over the river bank since there was “really no evidence of a beating or any sort of knife type wounds on the body.” The area where she was dumped is overgrown with weeds and not immediately visible from the top of the river bank. It is also rocky and trash strewn. This deputy believes she was killed elsewhere, stripped of her clothing (which has never been found) and thrown over the bank. Shoe impressions were taken from the area at the top of the bank. The medical examiner stated she was strangled within hours of her disappearance. A rape kit was used and the samples sent for analysis. The results of those swabs has not been publically revealed and Major Beckett at CPD is discussing with the City Attorney whether he can now release that information.

    The following is a verbatim account pulled from the Charleston Daily Mail newspaper of the first notice of Lynn Priestley’s disappearance. It was written by staff reporter Frank Hutchins and appeared in the March 22, 1990 issue. I am attempting to locate Mr. Hutchins.


    City woman’s parents ‘just hope and pray’

    By Frank Hutchins
    © The Charleston Daily Mail 3-22-90

    The parents of a woman missing since Friday night tense up each time the telephone rings in their Kanawha City home.

    “Every time it rings, my heart jumps,” said Blanche Priestley. “I think that maybe if she’s been held she’s gotten lose.”

    But the police said today there is no word on the whereabouts of 34-year-old Lynn Priestley who disappeared about 11 p.m. Friday after leaving the Tidewater restaurant in the Charleston town Center.

    Sgt. Dallas Staples of the Charleston Police Department said the case has been assigned high-priority, with all detectives working in some capacity on the investigation.

    A search was expected to begin at about noon today along the Kanawha River with dogs from West Virginia K-9 Search and Rescue Inc. Staples said.

    “They’re going to bring some dogs in and do a water search,” he said. “That service is available and that’s something we’ll be doing to leave no stones unturned.”

    Staples said there was no evidence a body was in the water, but that the search in the downtown area was initiated Because that’s where Lynn was last seen.
    Lynn, the assistant director of the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, was reported missing Saturday afternoon.

    “Her boyfriend called about quarter till 10 and wanted to know if she was here,” said Mrs. Priestley. “So then I kept calling and got concerned.”
    Lynn’s father, Charles, drove to her apartment after she failed to answer the telephone.

    “Her house was the same as she left it the night before,” Mrs. Priestley said. “Then I started getting worried.”

    Mrs. Priestley said Lynn has never left the Charleston area without telling them of her plans.

    “That’s not like her. She always called and said where she was,” Mrs. Priestley said. “We’re a very close family. That’s why I think if she could possibly get to a phone she would.”

    “The Priestleys said Lynn went to Tidewater Friday evening with her boyfriend, Thomas R. White, but the two apparently separated after 11 p.m. when they disagreed on where to go after leaving the restaurant.

    “I think she wanted to go to Spankys (a bar on the levee) and he didn’t want to go,” Mrs. Priestley said.

    Mrs. Priestley said White told her caught a taxi home after leaving Lynn at a mall exit near Tidewater. Lynn apparently never made it to her car, which was parked beside a sidewalk in the Judicial Annex parking lot.

    “It looks like somebody would see something if she did make it to her car,” Priestley said. “There are no leads whatsoever. “It’s just like she disappeared into thin air.”

    Mrs. Priestley said her daughter grew up in Charleston, and may have become a victim because she wasn’t afraid of the city.

    “You know, kids don’t think about walking on the streets or going to their cars at night,” she said. “I warned her and warned her and warned her. I just hope all girls learn something from this. Life is too short to even take the chance.”

    The Priestleys say they have received about 30 phone calls a day since Lynn disappeared, each one bringing them immediately to their feet. Most calls are from friends, offering help or consolation.

    “Everybody sure has been good to us,” Priestley said.

    But Mrs. Priestley, fighting tears as she talks about what might have become of Lynn, said the uncertainty is especially painful.

    “This is the worst part, not knowing whether she is dead or alive,” she said. “The thing that hurts is what have they done with her darling little body?”

    “I don’t know. We just have to sit and wait and see what happens – just hope and pray.”

    Lynn Priestley is 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighs 125 to 130 pounds, and has shoulder-length blonde hair and brown eyes. She was wearing a light blue Jordache blouse and blue Jordache jeans when she was last seen. Anyone with information can call Detective R. E. Flowers at 348-6480.

    __________________________________________________ ____________

    I spoke by phone with Detective Flowers (now retired). He will take a look at his old case notes and give me what personal recollections he has about the case. Flowers, who goes by the nickname "Rusty" is a member of a group of retired CPD detectives who meet for breakfast once or twice a month and he also promised to get me an introduction to this group, some of whom worked this case.

    I've tried scanning the newspaper reports but due to the dark color of the microfilm reproductions, my scanner cannot convert the files to a Word Document. So I am forced to retype them all. It takes time and this is but one case I am reviewing.

    Later today, after I have seen more information, I will add to this file the reports of the finding of Lynn’s body, and witness statements. But I can report to you the statement of a security guard at the Judicial Annex where Lynn’s car was parked:

    “I heard a very loud argument in the parking lot as I was taking out some trash.”

    A sworn officer was also able to speak with Lynn’s boyfriend Thomas R. White following the argument. He identified both Priestley and White, but refused to talk with reporters at the time due to evidentiary value of his report.

    Lynn’s body was found by a fisherman on the river bank, and I will post that information later today. I'm looking forward to your opinions.

  15. #15
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    It certainly should have been easy enough to check the boyfriend's story-that he took a taxi home. A quick check of local cab companies would reveal if he indeed did take a cab, at what time, and at where he was dropped off. Going by his story, I have to assume they arrived in the restaurant area together, Lynn driving.
    Whoever murdered Lynn had to have access to a vehicle since hers was found in the area from which she disappeared. Also, I have to think that the person who killed her was familiar with the Charleston-Kanawha City area. The person would have headed southeast for some distance on either Kanwaha Blvd or McCorkle Ave (Rts 60 or 61) through some fairly populated areas (Kanawha City was, in the mid-80s through the early '90s, the "hang-out" and cruising area for most of the kids in the area). The person may have taken I-64 south, but again I have to believe he knew the area in order to exit near the Marmet area and reach the river.

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