Tag Archive | "ralph lunsford"

Lena Lunsford Back in Court

Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Tim Rock
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Dec. 19, 2011 7:59 PM EST
Updated: Dec. 19, 2011 8:40 PM EST

Weston , Lewis County , West Virginia

The mother of a missing Lewis County toddler goes to court to fight for custody of her six other children.

Lena and Ralph Lunsford still refuse to plead for Aliayah Lunsford’s return.

Christmas Eve marks three months since Aliayah was reported missing. With so many unanswered questions, speculation continues to swirl in Lewis County that those closest to Aliayah know more than they’re saying.

It’s a mystery that’s shaken the small town of Weston to it’s core. Still searching for answers, protestors waited outside the Lewis County Courthouse on Monday, seeking justice for Aliayah.

“We’re just not going to stop until she’s brought home, one way or the other,” says Tina Green, who came from Morgantown to be a part of the demonstration.

“She’s missing. She’s gone. I mean, where is she at? How can you go to somewhere and laugh and giggle and act like, go about your business like nothing happened,” says Tina Smith, Aliayah’s aunt.

In an effort to reportedly regain custody of her six other children who were taken away shortly after Aliayah vanished, Lena Lunsford went before a judge in a closed door hearing, but still refuses to offer any insight as to what she thinks happened to her daughter.

“Did you or your husband have anything to do with her disappearance?” asked Eyewitness News reporter Leslie Rubin as Lena went into the courthouse. She would not respond.

“Why will you not speak with the media?” asked Rubin. She did not answer any questions.

Her husband, Ralph Lunsford, was also at the hearing and continued to try and duck the media and questions from those waiting outside.

“You have never told us anything about Aliayah’s disappearance and many fingers are being pointed at you so what do you have to say about that?” asked Rubin.

“No comment,” he responded.

Aliayah’s supporters say their silence speaks louder than anything else.

“If I could talk to Lena, you know, I guess I would say, ‘you were supposed to protect her, what happened?'” says Green.

Holding out hope for a Christmas miracle, they say they’ll fight for Aliayah until the very end.

“There’s no clue in sight, and we need answers,” says Margie Blake of Weston.

“It’s just like everything’s put on hold to find Aliayah. That’s what we want, we want her home for Christmas. Bad or good, we just need her home,” says Smith.

CPS hearings are closed to the public, so we do not know the outcome of the hearing.

There is still a $20,000 reward being offered by the FBI for information on Aliayah’s disappearance.

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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.

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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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Missing Girl’s Family Pleads For Return As FBI Search Shifts Locations

Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin

Weston , Lewis County , West Virginia

A major shift in the search for a missing Lewis County toddler, and extended family members are pleading for her return.

Aliayah Lunsford’s great aunts and uncles say they’ve been left in the dark just as much as everyone else when it comes to her search. Now, Eyewitness News has learned the search is focusing on an area that her step-father used to call home.

“We’re not going to give up hope. We want her home more than anything in the world,” says her great aunt Vickie Bowen from Webster County, West Virginia. They are words from a grieving family as they hold out hope Aliayah is still alive.

“Whoever has her. Please, please bring her home. Take her anywhere, to a public place…anywhere. Please do the right thing and send this little girl home,” she tells Eyewitness News.

Missing now for more than a month, the search for Aliayah has shifted to the remote town of Vadis in Lewis County. Vadis is about 30 minutes away from Bendale, where Aliayah was last seen at her home on the morning of September 24th.

“The search area is confined to several points of interest that law enforcement officers are looking at,” explains FBI Special Agent Jeff Killeen.

At the middle of that search is 1903 Vadis Road, the same address Ralph Lunsford, Aliayah’s step-father, had when he was arrested in 2009 for allegedly attacking a family member with an ax.

“We received some information from the community that we deemed credible,” says Killeen.

The FBI also moved it’s mobile command center from the state police barracks in Weston, to the Midway Volunteer Fire Department. The FBI says they can’t comment on what, if anything, they’ve found.

“People want to put the family down saying nobody cares about this little girl, and that is so far from the truth,” says her great uncle Jesse Prunty.

“People are wanting to place blame and I understand that. I understand the anger and the fear. Don’t you think we feel it too? We’re scared, we’re hurt, we’re angry, we’re grieving. We want this little girl home,” says Bowen.

Much speculation has been put on Aliayah’s mother, Lena, and her husband Ralph Lunsford, but the family says they’re not pointing any fingers. They just want Aliayah home, and whoever is responsible prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“We have to believe she is still out there. At this point, we could not function believing anything else,” says Bowen.

The FBI says they plan to have a press conference next week, and are hoping to release newer pictures of Aliayah.

The search in Vadis will continue tomorrow.

Since Aliayah went missing, Lena Lunsford was arrested on federal charges for selling her food stamps. Her four other children have been placed in foster care. She is also pregnant with twins.

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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

  • 3116 days, 18 hours, 15 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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