Tag Archive | "Clarksburg"

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.

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Officer says missing girl’s mom had drugs, needs substance abuse treatment

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The mother of a 3-year-old Lewis County girl missing for nearly two months should be ordered into substance abuse treatment because a state trooper caught her with synthetic drugs called bath salts, a probation officer says.

In a petition filed with U.S. District Court in Clarksburg, pretrial services officer Brian Kilgore also asks the court to order home incarceration for 29-year-old Lena Lunsford while she awaits trial on federal welfare fraud charges.

The petition argues court intervention is necessary because Lunsford is demonstrating “a lack of willingness to fully cooperate with the conditions of her supervision, and she appears to be selectively censoring what she wants her supervising officer to know.”

On Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate John Kaull scheduled a bond revocation hearing for Nov. 28 in Elkins.

Lunsford’s public defender, Brian Kornbrath, didn’t immediately return messages. Her private attorney, who is not handling the criminal case, declined comment.

Lunsford’s daughter Aliayah vanished from their Bendale home Sept. 24 and has not been seen since. Investigators are treating her disappearance as a crime but have yet to name any suspects. Nor have they said what they believe happened to the child.

Weeks after Aliayah’s disappearance, Lunsford was indicted on multiple counts of welfare fraud. Federal prosecutors say she swapped credits on her food stamp card for $50 cash five times in two months. Last week, Lunsford pleaded not guilty.

One of the conditions of her pretrial release, spelled out in an Oct. 17 court order, was to refrain from using drugs. Handwritten on the document are the words, “including bath salts.”

During a home visit on Oct. 20, Kilgore wrote, Lunsford told her probation officer she didn’t know what bath salts were and “advised that she had not been to a ‘head shop’ or like store in several months.”

Kilgore’s petition says that on Nov. 1, a state trooper found Lunsford and her husband Ralph with bath salts in a Clarksburg parking lot. The trooper said Ralph Lunsford acknowledged entering the Hot Stuff Cool Things shop and purchasing a product called “Sextary” for $52.

If Lena Lunsford argues that her husband is the sole user of the drugs, Kilgore wrote, he will recommend she be prohibiting from living with him until he completes a counseling or treatment program.

Lena Lunsford did not attend her plea hearing last week because she was in labor but she is expected to attend the bond revocation hearing.

She has seven children, including Aliayah and twin girls born last week. The older children range in age from 9 months to 11 years old.

Relatives say Lunsford lost custody of the older children to state child-welfare authorities after Aliayah disappeared, but authorities and attorneys have declined to comment on the status of the newborn twins.

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Lunsford Arrested in Separate Case

Mother arraigned on charges unrelated to daughter’s disappearance

By John Clise – Special to The Inter-Mountain , The Inter-Mountain

Lena Lunsford - suspected felon.

In a matter not related to the disappearance of her 3-year-old daughter, Aliayah Lunsford, Lena Lunsford of Weston was taken into custody Monday afternoon by federal authorities on a felony charge of allowing another individual to use a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) card, issued to her, in her name and with her personal identification number, to purchase approximately $114.82 in food in exchange for a $50 cash payment on or about Oct. 15.

This is a violation of Title 7, United States Code, Section 22024(b). She faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine on the count, if she is found guilty.

According to FBI Special Agent Jeff Killeen, Lena Lunsford was taken into custody without incident and arraigned before federal Magistrate John Kaull in United States District Court in Clarksburg. She was released on her own recognizance, according to Killeen.

Killeen said the investigation into the alleged trading of cash for the use of the SNAP card and that of her missing daughter are two separate matters, and the investigation of both matters will continue as independent issues.

The matter of the alleged SNAP card abuse will proceed to the federal grand jury for action, according to Killeen.

In regards to the disappearance of Aliayah Lunsford, Killeen said the focus continues to narrow each day as investigators comb through video surveillance for more clues.

Killeen said video surveillance continues to be enhanced in an effort to find more evidence, though the investigators need to continue in a “methodical and correct” manner.

Aliayah Lunsford went missing from her family’s Dennison Street home, in the Bendale area of Weston on Sept. 24 between 6:30-9:30 a.m. Lena Lunsford reported her missing at approximately 11:30 a.m. after searching for the missing child in her vehicle.

According to Killeen, investigators are still working toward a positive outcome on the case, and they are still looking at “a small universe of individuals” regarding the disappearance.

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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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