POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — A Gallipolis, Ohio, man is being held on a $100,000 cash-only bond after human remains were found just outside Point Pleasant over the weekend, with the suspect linked to a missing person’s case in Gallia County.
Richard A. Hurt, 47, appeared before Mason County Magistrate Cheryl Ross for arraignment after he was charged with concealment of deceased human body. He’s currently incarcerated at the Western Regional Jail.
The criminal complaint filed in Mason County Magistrate Court, states on Saturday night, troopers with the Mason County Post of the West Virginia State Police were called to respond to a complaint of possible human remains buried at a private residence located at 94 Abby Lane, Point Pleasant. Once on the scene, the remains were confirmed, buried in a shallow grave on the property. At the time of the discovery, troopers spoke with the homeowner who stated Hurt had recently done some work in the area where the body was located.
Troopers said the homeowner was not involved in the crime and was the person who found the remains hidden on their property. The homeowner then gave troopers a description of Hurt’s vehicle.
On Sunday morning, troopers spotted Hurt, initiating a traffic stop. Following this, Hurt agreed to give a voluntary statement, according to troopers.
The complaint states Hurt said he dismembered the deceased victim, Jessica Berry, with a saw after she fatally overdosed on narcotics. According to the complaint, Hurt stated he placed the body parts into trash bags and transported them to the home on Abby Lane, where the remains were placed into a shallow grave and covered with dirt and rubble. The complaint doesn’t state where Berry died.
As reported by the Gallipolis Daily Tribune last week, according to Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning, a report dated July 24 indicated Berry’s family had not seen Berry, 32, for days and were growing concerned. Deputies spoke with the woman’s mother, Tammy Taylor, who stated her daughter had gotten into a red or maroon car with some friends in the evening at approximately 7:30 p.m. July 18.
Though Hurt allegedly claimed the victim was Berry in his statement to troopers, as of Monday afternoon, the WVSP reported the victim’s remains had not been officially identified by the medical examiner in Charleston, W.Va. Those results were expected as soon as possible.
The WVSP are leading the investigation into the discovery of the remains and Hurt’s arrest, with assistance at the scene from its WVSP Crime Lab personnel, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and the Mason County Sheriff’s Department.
On Monday, Browning’s office released a statement saying Gallia County Detectives along with Ohio BCI agents had the opportunity to interview Hurt shortly after his arrest. The release also stated further charges are pending in Ohio upon consultation with the Gallia County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Adkins.
In a statement, Adkins said: “We have been in constant communication with the prosecuting attorney in Mason County, W.Va. and the State Police of West Virginia. Since the discovery over the weekend, my office has been coordinating with the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. Our goal at this time is to ensure a thorough investigation into all material witnesses and in uncovering any and all evidence that may exist. Once the investigation is completed I will be working closely with the authorities in Mason County, in making any decisions moving forward with respect to Gallia County. Over the next few days I expect that additional information and details will emerge that will better allow my office to fully and completely assess what occurred.”
Browning stated the investigation is ongoing and that other persons who may have information should contact the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office at 740-446-1221 or through the Criminal Activity Tip Line of 740-446-6555. The WVSP can be contacted with information by calling 304-675-0850.
Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.