Fayette County Sheriff’s deputies Friday arrested the second suspect in the Easter Sunday murder of an Oak Hill woman.
Sheriff Mike Fridley and prosecuting attorney Larry Harrah report that Matthew Nelson Underwood, 31, of Oak Hill, was charged in connection with the murder of Janet Garrett, 48, after first sparking police interest in the hours after her death.
Garrett died inside her Berry Street mobile home, just outside of Oak Hill, after being shot once in the chest in the early hours Sunday, Fridley said.
Deputies arrested Derrick Crouse, 19, of Oak Hill, for the shooting Tuesday. A preliminary hearing for Crouse is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday before Fayette County Magistrate Sharon McGraw.
Capt. Jim Sizemore said Friday that the motive was apparently a botched burglary. Garrett’s boyfriend, Joshua Fleshman, and another male, Leland Lowe, were inside Garrett’s home at the time of the shooting. Police suspect that Crouse, armed with a gun, and Underwood, who carried a knife, entered Garrett’s residence with the intent to rob Fleshman of drugs and/or cash.
Both assailants wore ski masks and fled after the shooting without taking anything from Garrett’s home, according to witness statements.
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Underwood caught the eye of police Monday, when authorities were searching for Crouse.
Gary Rader, a neighbor of Crouse’s at Rosedale Trailer Park, told police that Crouse had pointed a gun at his face around 1 a.m. Monday, about 24 hours after Garrett’s murder. A man named Jamie Baker was with Crouse, Rader reported.
Around 5 p.m. Monday, Baker and his girlfriend visited the police station to report that Crouse had shot Garrett. The couple had also identified “another suspect,” Fridley earlier reported.
“When we were searching for Crouse on Monday evening we made contact with Matthew Underwood in the Rosedale Trailer Park,” said Fridley. “There were outstanding warrants for his arrest for robbery, so he was arrested and remanded to the Southern Regional Jail.
The sheriff said Underwood was arraigned on the robbery charge Tuesday and has been held in the Southern Regional Jail since that time in lieu of $10,000 bond.
After Crouse’s arrest for murder, police continued to conduct interviews in order to identify the second man who had entered Garrett’s home.
Friday, police faxed an arrest warrant for murder to Southern Regional Jail, where Underwood was incarcerated, and Underwood was arraigned via video for Garrett’s murder.
“The initial arrest in this case was the direct result of information received from the public through Crime Stoppers, social media and telephone calls,” said Prosecutor Harrah. “This second arrest is the result old-fashioned police work. Detectives have spent the past several days knocking on doors, conducting interviews and gathering evidence to support the arrest of this second suspect.”
Fridley said, “There’s still a lot of work to do in this case. Detectives are continuing to conduct interviews and to search for additional evidence to strengthen this case even further.”
Fridley asked anyone with any information to contact the Fayette Sheriff’s Office, either at 304-574-4216 or through the Facebook page, “Fayette County Sheriff’s Department,” or to call Crime Stoppers at 304-255-STOP.