GALLIPOLIS — A Gallia County man indicted on felony charges of tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse after allegedly confessing to dismembering a woman’s body is out of police custody after posting bond Tuesday afternoon.
Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins requested that Gallia County Common Pleas Court Judge Dean Evans set bond for Richard Hurt, 47, of Gallipolis, at $500,000 with a 10 percent surety during Hurt’s arraignment Tuesday morning. Adkins said his office was still waiting on the toxicology and autopsy reports of a dismembered body discovered in West Virginia before filing any possible additional charges against Hurt.
Evans ordered bond set at $50,000 with a 10 percent surety. Conditions of the bond state Hurt is to have no contact with the reported victim’s family as well as law enforcement.
“What this court is looking at is a felony of the fifth-degree and a felony of the third-degree,” Evans said. “Regardless of what may have happened, I can’t be looking at something you may be anticipating or looking at filing later, which are the results of tests. … I’m looking at a third-degree and a fifth-degree felony, simply put.”
Hurt is represented by attorney Ronald Janes. Hurt pleaded not guilty to both charges at Tuesday’s arraignment. Janes said during proceedings that Hurt had no prior crime records in the county, was cooperating with authorities and would continue to cooperate. Janes noted that Hurt is a property owner in Gallia County and a military veteran.
In West Virginia, Hurt faces a charge of concealment of a deceased human body.
According to court records, the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and Ohio Bureau Criminal Identification and Investigation assisted authorities July 30 in Mason County, W.Va., with the discovery of a dismembered human body. During the investigation, Hurt reportedly told investigators he and a recently reported missing Gallia County woman, Jessica Berry, 32 at the time (she would have been 33 on Sept. 20), of Gallipolis, were at a residence on White Road in Gallia County on or about July 19. Berry allegedly overdosed on narcotics at the location.
Hurt also allegedly said he used a saw to dismember Berry’s remains, placed them in trash bags and transported those remains in his vehicle for roughly one and a half days before taking them to Mason County, where he buried the remains on private property.
Hurt reportedly said he disposed of Berry’s clothing and the saw in the trash that was collected by a local garbage service. Court records state Hurt said he knew the items would end up at the local landfill.
The Daily Tribune has previously reported Berry’s disappearance. Records further state Hurt had supposedly provided a false statement to Gallia County deputies in regards to Berry’s initial disappearance.
According to Adkins, the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner currently has the remains. Adkins added that he was told by the office it would take about two to four months to properly process information from the human remains discovered in the dismemberment case . Any further charges that may be filed, he said, will hinge on the information provided from scientific data gathered from those human remains.
According to Gallia County Court records, Hurt posted bond Tuesday afternoon and paid roughly $5,000. Records further say a jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 18, 2017.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.