The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

February 13, 2013

Suspect confesses to Wyoming murder

PINEVILLE — A Brenton woman was killed when she interrupted a robbery in her home Tuesday evening, according to Wyoming County Sheriff Randall Aliff.

Elaine Birchfield, 60, who lived alone on Shannon/Mill Creek Road, was found dead in her home, Aliff said.

John New, 20, of Briar Creek, is charged with first degree murder, grand larceny in connection with the theft of the victim’s truck and daytime burglary.

“He has confessed,” Aliff said Wednesday morning. “Robbery was the motive for him entering the house.”

Authorities were notified just after 6 p.m. Tuesday and began processing the scene as a homicide investigation, according to the sheriff.

Additionally, officers began talking to witnesses.

With the victim’s truck missing from the residence, an “All Points Bulletin” was issued for the vehicle.

As law enforcement officials continued the investigation at the victim’s residence in Wyoming County, officers from the Gilbert Police Department in Mingo County spotted the truck described in the APB a few hours later, Aliff said.

They stopped the truck and arrested the suspect, the sheriff noted.

“At this time, drugs do not appear to be a factor,” Aliff said.

It also doesn’t appear that New and Birchfield knew each other, the sheriff added.

No other details will be made public yet, Aliff said.

New was to be arraigned later Wednesday.

The investigation is continuing.

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

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