Fayette County Sheriff’s Department deputies on Monday arrested an Oak Hill man who allegedly strangled his victim and later threatened her — in writing — after she had reported the incident to police.
Justin Garrett Connor is charged with the felony count of strangulation, intimidation of a state witness, obstruction of an officer, domestic battery and domestic assault for his alleged actions against the victim.
On Sunday, according to a press release from Sheriff Mike Fridley’s office, Connor had tried to suffocate a woman with a pillow case and his hands. He also held the victim in a headlock, police reported.
When the woman escaped and notified neighbors of the alleged attack, police reported, Connor left the Elijah Lane property after he made a threat to burn down her house.
Deputies found Connor when he was “walking away,” according to the report, but he allegedly gave police a false name and ran from them.
After police had left, according to the press release, Connor went back to the scene of the crime on Sunday evening and put padlocks on the outside doors.
He then left notes that police described as “threatening.” Police did not publish the content of the notes.
Deputies went back to the property to speak with Connor on two separate occasions, but he ran away before they arrived each time, they said.
On Monday, West Virginia State Police troopers made contact with the suspect and arrested him on charges of intimidation of witness.
According to police, Connor had had a personal relationship with the victim. At the time of the latest alleged crimes, he was under bond conditions for a prior attack on the same victim, police said.
Strangulation has been a felony charge in West Virginia since 2016, when advocates for victims of domestic violence told lawmakers that strangulation is often an indicator that a perpetrator is more likely to kill a victim.
Prior to the 2016 law, state code required an element of physical injury or a demonstrated intent to kill in order for prosecutors and law enforcement officers to get a felony charge.
Studies in the Journal of Emergency Medicine demonstrate that someone who strangles another person is seven times more likely to kill that person in the future, West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence Team Coordinator Joyce Yadlosky told MetroNews in 2016.
Deputy B.K. Fernandez is investigating the incident, which is a criminal complaint at this time. Connor has not stood trial for any of the charges.
Those with information may call Fernandez at 304-574-3590 or reach out on Facebook at “Fayette County Sheriff’s Department” or leave an anonymous tip at Crime Stoppers by calling 304-255-STOP.