The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Police/Courts

July 11, 2014

Investigation into deadly neighbor fight continues

Police are still investigating what happened before Jeffrey Bair died.

Jeffrey “Jeff” Bair of Maple Fork died in Charleston Area Medical Center June 7 after allegedly fighting with his neighbor.

People in the community say Bair was murdered. Police officials aren’t ready to make that call yet.

“Our understanding of the matter is that there had been a confrontation between neighbors, Jeff being one of them,” Lt. Larry Lilly of the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office said. “A fight ensued in which it appears Jeff may have been the primary aggressor.

“Obviously at some point he ends up injured severely and on his own property. He died in the hospital in Charleston. That's all we can release at this point.”

Lilly said the case isn’t closed.

“There are a couple of things left to do on that case,” Lilly said. “I have Detective Williams assigned to that.

“It is in no way, shape or form closed. It's an active investigation. Any time someone dies, the stakes are higher, but ultimately it's the same investigation.”

One of the biggest problems police are facing with the investigation is that the rumor mill keeps on grinding.

“Every time you think you've talked to everyone, three more people pop up that supposedly know something,” Lilly said. “Some of them do and most of them don't. Once we have all the information, we'll sit down with the prosecuting attorney and see what she wants to do with it.

“She could tell us to get an arrest warrant. She could tell us that it's a justified homicide and that's that. She could also tell us that there's not enough to prosecute. There are infinite possibilities. There's not a whole lot we can say yet until we have all the information about this case.”

“A lot of what this investigation centers around is 'Is this a justifiable homicide? Is it an accident?'” Lilly added. “It was a fight between two willing participants at some point. There's a lot in it.”

— E-mail: cneff@register-herald.com

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