The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 19, 2013

Wyoming father, son denied bond in 2011 murder

By Jessica Farrish
Register-Herald Reporter

PRINCETON — Mercer County Circuit Court Judge Derek Swope denied bond Monday for a father and son facing first-degree murder charges in the 2011 death of a Summers County man.

Oscar Combs Sr., 44, of Bud, and Oscar Combs Jr., 21, of Herndon, appeared in separate bond hearings. Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash said the state objected to bond in both cases due to the seriousness of the charge, and the possibility of both men being a flight risk.

James “Bo” Butler, 55, was shot execution-style in the back of his head, according to the complaint, filed by West Virginia State Police Cpl. A.S. Reed of the Hinton detachment.

His body was discovered two or three weeks later in Wyoming County.

Police arrested the father and son last week in connection with Butler’s death.

In the complaint, Reed said that Butler’s slaying appeared to have been planned.

On the morning of April 4, 2011, Combs Sr. expected Butler to have money since he had recently received a paycheck, Reed stated. The elder Combs and his son decided to rob Butler, according to the complaint, which also alleged that Combs Jr. told his father that he would kill Butler.

Prior to the shooting, Combs Sr. contacted Butler on the pretense that he had “clamps” that Butler needed, the complaint said.

The Combs men met Butler along W.Va. 10 on Herndon Mountain Road in Mercer County so that Butler could pick up the clamps. According to the complaint, Combs Sr. told police that he met with Butler and took the clamps from his own truck, placing them in Butler’s vehicle.

As Combs Sr. engaged Butler in conversation, the complaint stated that Combs Jr. sneaked up on Butler from behind and shot him in the back of the head, instantly killing him.

Butler’s supervisor contacted Butler’s family, alerting them that Butler — a model employee — had not shown up for work, according to police.

Butler’s sister then filed a missing persons complaint in Summers County. An intense search for Butler was conducted.

His body was discovered several weeks after the murder on Crumpler Road in Wyoming County, a few miles from the Mercer-Wyoming line.

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Oscar Combs Sr. waived his time limit for a preliminary hearing, according to Magistrate James Dent, but after Monday’s bond hearings, Combs Jr. was brought to the Mercer County Courthouse Annex where he chose to have his scheduled preliminary hearing before Dent.

Reed testified during this hearing that new information became available when a confidential informant told investigators about hearing the father and son discuss Butler’s murder. With this information, the murder weapon was located, Reed said.

Both the father and son gave investigators conflicting statements about who had shot Butler. At first, the senior Combs and his son named each other as the shooter, but later Oscar Combs Jr. said he fired the shot, but he did it under duress because he feared his father, Reed said after the hearing.

Magistrate Dent ruled there was probable cause in the case of Oscar Combs Jr. to bind the case over to the grand jury.

Greg Jordan, a reporter for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, contributed to this story.

— E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com