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The unsolved mystery of the two missing Lewis County, West Virginia women

by James Maropoulakis Denney

James Maropoulakis Denney is a resident of Lewis County West Virginia, who has worked as a general practice attorney in Northeast Ohio for 32 years. He successfully litigated a class action case against traffic speed cameras in Girard, Ohio in 2006. He is of Greek descent (from the Island of Crete) on his mother’s side, and Scottish-Irish on his father’s side. A graduate of Youngstown State University with a AB in Political Science, he attended law school at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, receiving his JD degree in 1977. Married with five children and two grandchildren, Attorney Denney is an avid deer hunter and conservationist, a life member of the NRA, and a national officer of the Pancretan Association of America. He also serves as President of the Lincoln 89 Chapter of the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA), and is a member of Saint Spyridon Greek Orthodox (Clarksburg), and Saint John Greek Orthodox (Boardman, Ohio) Churches.

From the Clarksburg Conservative Examiner, December 30, 2009

It was just over ten years ago, on Wednesday, December 1, 1999 that 45 year old Mary Friend and her mother, 69 year old Maxine Stalnaker were last seen or heard from. Mary was scheduled to work the following morning at her job at an area dry cleaners, but she never showed up. Maxine, Mary and Mary’s husband Kevin Friend lived together on Jesse’s Run Road near the small rural town of Jane Lew in Lewis County, West Virginia at Maxine’s residence.

Mary Friend

Mary Friend, Credit: West Virginia State Police

The late afternoon of Wednesday, December 1st, 1999 started off with Mary Friend and her mother Maxine Stalnaker driving from their Jesse’s Run residence into Jane Lew in Mary’s 1987 Chevy station wagon. In part, the purpose of the trip was to pick up Pam Pugh, a sister of Mary’s, and then drive to the Joseph Metz residence to have two used tires put on the vehicle. Pam and Mary dropped their mother Maxine off at the Sheetz store at the Jane Lew exit of I-79 (exit 105), where Maxine was picked up by her son Ted Harrison to go shopping, then Mary and Pam proceeded to the Metz residence near the Stonewall Jackson Lake/Stonecoal Lake area to get the tires. They arrived about four p.m. according to reports, and after the tires were installed by Metz, left at six p.m. Joseph Metz was employed at the time at the Wilderness Plantation in Jane Lew, a club/restaurant, and was scheduled to work that evening. Metz, who reportedly did not have his own vehicle, declined a ride to work offered by Mary and Pam. Reports indicate that Metz did not work that evening, but did later obtain a ride to Jane Lew from two neighbors, and then hitch-hiked home. Pam Pugh reports that her sister Mary dropped her off at her Jane Lew residence about 8 to 9 p.m., and then drove herself home. Ted Harrison reports that he dropped his mother Maxine off at the Jesse’s Run residence at 5 p.m. Those were the last times either of the two women were seen. Mary was supposed to pick her sister Pam Pugh up the folowing morning, and Pam was supposed to take Mary to work, and then use Mary’s car to go Christmas shopping with Joseph Metz.

Mary’s husband Kevin had been working in the state of Maryland, and returned home on Friday, December 3rd to find the house empty. He had tried several times unsuccessfully to telephone his wife before he came home, and even tried calling his co-worker’s friend who was a friend of Mary’s to try and reach her. Mary’s car, a 1987 gray Chevy Celebrity station wagon, was found abandoned several miles from the residence parked next to a building on U.S. Route 19 in the town of Gore, West Virginia on Monday December 6th. Police say that there were no signs of struggle or robbery either at the scene where the car was found, or at the residence on Jesse’s Run. One source did report that a bloody cloth was removed from the scene inside the residence at Jesse’s Run by a family member before the police arrived on Saturday December 4th. In addition, Maxine’s young pet Doberman was found dead under the house, and the police have not provided any explanation as to how the animal died.

Maxine Stalnaker

Maxine Stalnaker. Mary and Maxine were last seen at their house near Jane Lew on December 1, 1999.

A second dog, a Border Collie, was missing from the Jesse’s Run residence, but was found unharmed in the area of Glady Fork near Stonewall Jackson Lake, approximately ten miles from the Jesse’s Run residence. This dog was found at a former residence (at the time abandoned) of Mary and Kevin Friend. This dog was familiar with this area, having previously lived at the location with Mary and Kevin Friend. The Border Collie had originally belonged to Mary Friend’s adult son Joseph Metz, who also had a residence in the vicinity close to where the dog was found, but it was being cared for and lived at the Jesse’s Run residence at the time of the two women’s disappearance.

A purse belonging to one of the two missing women was hooked by a fisherman in the fall of 2002 in Stonewall Jackson Lake in an area near the Skin Creek bridge, also in relatively close proximity to the former Glady Fork Friend residence and the separate residence of Joseph Metz. The Purse contained the identification of both missing women. An extensive ten day search of the lake bottom was conducted at the time with no further results reported. A second search of the lake was conducted in the summer of 2007, again with no results.

It is reported that Joseph Metz submitted to a polygraph test and did not fare well on it. Rumors have been circulating about one family member allegedly conducting some illegal activities for a local business owner, and that Mary Friend threatened to expose this. Authorities have not been able to confirm any of this. Ten years have elapsed, and no charges have yet been filed. Three law enforcement agencies have been involved in the investigation: the FBI, the Lewis County Sherriff, and the West Virginia State Police. If you have any pertinent information that might help solve the mystery of the two missing Lewis County women, please contact the West Virginia State Police:

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Aliayah Lunsford Allegedly Last Seen

  • 3108 days, 6 hours, 31 minutes ago

About Aliayah Lunsford

Age 3, Aliayah Lunsford's mother claims that she last saw her daughter at home on September 24, 2011 around 6:30 a.m.

Aliayah has brown eyes and hair, is around 3 foot tall and weighs about 30lbs.

Last seen wearing purple Dora the Explorer pajama bottoms, pink princess sweatshirt and no shoes, Aliayah's ears are pierced and she is missing four (4) front teeth.

If you have any information on her whereabouts, call the Lewis County Sheriff's Department at 304-269-8245.


What happened to Aliayah?

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