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Four people indicted in Jefferson County kidnapping and murder case

Indictment (Source: MGN)
Indictment (Source: MGN)(KMVT)
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 5:28 PM EST
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MARTINSBURG, W.Va (WDTV) - Four Maryland residents are facing charges involving kidnapping and murder, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell announced in a press release.

The 9-count indictment involves a kidnapping and murder, as well as the murder of two witnesses.

Those indicted are:

  • Monroe Merrell, 23, of Westminster, Maryland
  • David Ray Sanford, Jr., 26, of Westminster, Maryland
  • John Westley Black, III, 23, of Westminster, Maryland
  • Jeffrey Craig Smith, Jr., 23, of Taneytown, Maryland

“This is one of the most heinous crimes I’ve seen, where three people lost their lives for what appears to have begun as a $40 debt. These crimes will be aggressively prosecuted,” said Powell.

According to the U.S. Attorneys Office, Merrell, Sanford, and Black are each facing one count of “Aiding and Abetting Kidnapping Resulting in Death,” one count of “Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping,” and one count of “Aiding and Abetting Corrupt Destruction of Object” involving the kidnapping and murder of J.R. in March 2020 in Jefferson County. Smith is charged with one count of “Accessory After the Fact” for allegedly assisting Merrell and Sanford, after the kidnapping and murder occurred.

Merrell, Sanford, and Smith are each facing one count of “Conspiracy to Commit Tampering with a Witness Causing Death” and two counts of “Aiding and Abetting Tampering with a Witness Causing Death” involving the murders of D.T. and H.G. who were witnesses of crimes against J.R. The murders occurred in April 2020 in Berkeley County.

Merrell and Sanford are also each facing one count of “Aiding and Abetting Intimidation of a Witness by Threats.” Merrell is facing one count of “Solicitation to Commit a Crime of Violence.”

An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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