Two female homicide victims discovered in Blue Bend area, one man in custody

(Photo by Sarah Richardson)
Greenbrier County Sheriff Bruce Sloan (left) sits next to prosecuting attorney Patrick Via as they answer questions about the crimes.

On Jan. 24, Greenbrier County Sheriff Bruce Sloan and Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Via hosted a press conference at the Greenbrier County Courthouse in regards to an ongoing double homicide investigation in the Blue Bend area.

On  Jan. 18, members of the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office, the Greenbrier County Drugs and Violent Crimes Task Force, and the West Virginia State Police responded to a deceased body found behind an uninhabited residence on Anthony Road. On Jan. 19, the State Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on the body and the cause of death was ruled to be a homicide. Shaela Lynn (McCoy) Abren, 32, of Raleigh County, was identified as the victim.

On Jan. 20, investigators with the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office discovered a second body, buried in a shallow grave “in a wooded mountainous area of the national forest property, near the Blue Bend area,” according to a press release distributed by Sheriff Sloan. An autopsy was performed, and the cause of death was ruled to be a homicide, as well. The body was identified at Chastity Faye Hamm, 24, of White Sulphur Springs.

The cause and manner of death, which were not released during the press conference, was consistent for both Abren and Hamm. The sheriff’s office clarified that neither body was dismembered, saying that such rumors circulating within the community were “totally false.”

The investigation further revealed that Hamm was the first murder victim, although it is too soon to tell how long each victim was deceased before being discovered. Sloan clarified that the two victims were killed at separate times. Neither victim had been reported missing by the time the bodies were discovered.

When asked if they anticipated finding any other bodies, Sloan said, “At this point, we don’t anticipate additional victims, but can we totally discount the possibility of there being other victims? No, we can’t.”

The suspect in the murders, whose name is not being released at this time, is currently in custody for unrelated charges. The sheriff’s office assured that his identity will be revealed at a later date. Sloan emphasized, “we would rather not disclose where the suspect is currently incarcerated,” as well.

According to Sloan, the suspect and the victims did know each other. “There is a link,” he said. When asked if drugs or sexual assault played a part in the homicides, he was unable to comment at this time. “This is a very active investigation and is far from being concluded,” states the press release.

“Of paramount concern to law enforcement is public safety, and we believe that has been accomplished in this particular instance with the incarceration of this suspect,” states the press release. “Our next priority is to provide the Greenbrier County Prosecuting Attorney with a thorough criminal investigation that will lead to a successful prosecution of these atrocious crimes, and justice for the victims.”