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Judge orders mother of missing W.Va. girl to live apart from husband

ELKINS, W.Va. — A woman whose 3-year-old daughter has been missing for more than two months was ordered Monday to live apart from her husband after he admitting buying and using synthetic drugs called bath salts.

U.S. Magistrate John Kaull also ordered 29-year-old Lena Lunsford to undergo drug counseling while she stays with her mother in Walkersville and awaits trial on federal welfare fraud charges. Prosecutors had asked for home incarceration, but Kaull denied that request.

Prosecutors accused Lunsford of violating two conditions of her pre-trial release — that she refrain from using bath salts and other drugs, and that she report any and all contact with law enforcement to her probation officer.

Kaull ruled that Lunsford violated one of those terms by failing to report her Nov. 1 interaction with a state trooper but said there was not enough evidence to conclude the bath salts called “Sextacy” were hers.

Lunsford and her husband, Ralph, were caught with the drugs outside a Clarksburg paraphernalia shop. But Ralph testified Monday that the drugs were his, that he believed they were legal to buy, and that his wife didn’t know he had them until the trooper approached the car.

“She didn’t know what I was doing,” he said. “I never told her I was going to buy it.”

During the nearly two-hour hearing, Trooper Dennis Cayton revealed that State Police have had the Lunsfords under steady surveillance since their daughter Aliayah vanished from the family’s rented home in Bendale on Sept. 24.

Authorities have been tightlipped about their investigation but are treating her disappearance as a crime. They’ve named no suspects, made no arrests and refused to say what they think happened to the girl.

But Ralph Lunsford’s testimony suggests he’s been under scrutiny.

“I’ve been questioned by authorities day after day for the last month or two,” he said when asked about the details of his discussion with Cayton earlier this month. “I can’t remember every conversation.”

Cayton said he and other officers have followed the couple on multiple visits to the Rosebud shopping plaza since Aliayah’s disappearance. Lena Lunsford always drove, and Ralph Lunsford always entered the store.

On Nov. 1, Cayton said he anticipated where they were going and waited for them at the shop. Cayton said they arrived within five minutes, and when he later asked Ralph Lunsford what he’d bought, he produced a $52 package of bath salts from his wallet. The 500 mg pouch is touted as a combination of Viagra and the club drug Ecstasy.

Lena Lunsford didn’t express any surprise about her husband’s purchase, Cayton said.

U.S. Magistrate John Kaull says Lena Lunsford must also submit to drug counseling while awaiting trial on federal welfare fraud charges.

The magistrate, however, said that lack of reaction could indicate either self-control or knowledge of what her husband had.

Nor is it yet clear whether the bath salts are even illegal under West Virginia law. That will be determined by its chemical composition, and Cayton said he’s still awaiting the results of lab testing.

Ralph Lunsford said he started ingesting the drugs about a year ago but denied he did it to get high.

“It just gives you more energy,” he said.

He acknowledged using about one packet of bath salts a week but said he didn’t know the difference between a brand that sells for $27 and the higher-priced variety. He said he never bought the drugs for his wife, never shared them with her and never discussed them with her.

“She takes me places and don’t ask me questions about what I’m doing,” he said.

Lunsford said his wife has not taken him to the Clarksburg shop since Nov. 1 and said the two have been living apart since they were evicted from their home.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Morgan said the landlord claims he is owed more than $1,400, suggesting the couple were at least three months behind on rent.

“So you haven’t been paying rent, but you’ve been buying bath salts?” she asked.

“Yeah, I’d say you’re right,” he answered.

Weeks after their daughter’s disappearance, Lena Lunsford was indicted on multiple counts of welfare fraud, accused of swapping credits on her food stamp card for $50 cash five times in two months. She has pleaded not guilty.

The Lunsfords and public defender Brian Kornbrath refused to speak to reporters after the hearing.

Lena Lunsford has seven children, including Aliayah and infant twin girls.

The older children range in age from 9 months to 11 years old and have been in the custody of state child-welfare authorities since Aliayah disappeared. Authorities and attorneys have declined to comment on the status of the newborns.

4 Responses to “Judge orders mother of missing W.Va. girl to live apart from husband”

  1. 1
    kacie damron Says:

    i thought bath salts were legal, although i have never tried them, i dont see why she got in trouble if they are legal!!!

  2. 2
    admin Says:

    Bath Salts aren’t illegal in WV as far as we know. The reason Lena got in trouble and was arrested is because she has to inform her parole officer if she is ever stopped by a law enforcement officer. Because the officer approached Lena and Ralph when they left that store with the bath salts, Lena should have told her parole officer about that. She didn’t and so she was arrested. That is our understanding of the situation.

  3. 3
    Rosemary Says:

    Whether bath salts are illegal or not no one should be putting them into their bodies as drugs. And for someone to pay upwards of 75 dollars for something you might be able to buy at a dollar store if i have this straight ought to qualify them for admittance to a mental hospital.
    I can’t believe some of the things I read on these websites.
    what do they do with these bathsalts snort them?

  4. 4
    Serenity Says:

    These are not bath salts like the kind you put in the bathtub to relax, they are a synthetic substance used to get high. You buy them in “head shops” and such, not the same as the bath salts one can get at Walmart or a dollar store.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_salts_%28drug%29

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Aliayah Lunsford Allegedly Last Seen

  • 2274 days, 18 hours, 0 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.

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