Investigator: Argument over rooster led to man's death

submitted photoRichard Wayne Ellison, 47, of Rock was arrested Sunday by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department.

ROCK — A Mercer County man arrested and charged with second-degree murder is accused of arguing with the victim about a crowing rooster, then killing the rooster and then the victim by gouging his eyes out, later telling a detective "that Lucifer made him do it."

Richard Wayne Ellison, 47, of Rock was arrested Sunday by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department for the murder of Benny Foutch, a 72-year-old resident at Reese Harmon Ridge Road, according to a statement released by the sheriff's department.

The investigation began when the Princeton Rescue Squad was called to a residence on Reese Harmon Ridge Road in the Rock area for an unrelated complaint and found the body of the victim outside his residence. EMS requested law enforcement and the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department responded. During the investigation Richard Ellison was identified as a suspect and taken into custody.

The Princeton Rescue Squad was first on the scene, according to the criminal complaint filed by Detective-Cpl. M.S. Horn. They found the vicim, Foutch, on his porch, and "blood was coming from his orbital sockets."

"When looking at the victim, the gouging out of his eyes appeared to be his cause of death being no other serious injuries were observed with Detective-Sergeant (S.A.) Sommers checking his skull for any possible fractures, but he will be sent to the W.Va. State Police Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy," Horn said in the report.

Horn said that when he went to the crime scene, he observed the body on the outdoor porch area toward some other buildings, one of the buildings being a storage area for chickens.

"I noticed when taking photographs of the residence, a large number of feathers which appeared to be from a chicken," Horn stated in the report.

Ellison's girlfriend told investigators that "Richard had made some comments about the rooster belonging to Benny Foutch bothering him with the noises it made. She advised he went up there and that she heard some beating noise on the building area where the rooster was kept and then she heard some angry yelling," Horn said. "She had left because she was afraid of Richard Ellison and how he was acting. She later came back and advised that Richard Ellison admitted to her that he killed the rooster and that he killed him, pointing up to Benny's residence," Horn said in the report.

Horn said he spoke with Ellison's son, who stated that "Richard had brought the dead rooster back down to his property and he advised he disposed of it. He advised that Richard told him that he killed it and pointed up towards Benny's residence. He advised that he went up there to see if what Richard had said was true, he advised that he saw Benny (Foutch) on the porch."

Mercer County 911 was called, but the incident was reported as a mental health evaluation, Horn said.

Horn stated that he interviewed Richard Ellison after reading him his Miranda rights.

"I asked him what happened with him and Benny, he then made the hand motion of pressing his thumbs to his eyes," Horn said in the report. "He advised he went up there to kill the rooster because of a movie he had watched and because it was crowing. He later explained that he pressed his thumbs into Benny's eyes, he advised that he stayed there until he knew Benny was dead. He made the statement that he killed him, referring to the incident with Benny. He made a reference that Lucifer made him do it. He kept asking me to shoot him, that he deserved it. He then talked about getting somebody in the jail to kill him."

Richard Wayne Ellison was arraigned by videoconference before Magistrate Mike Flanigan. Flanigan set a $200,000 cash-only bond.

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