UPDATE: 3 Men Arrested in Connection with 1999 Lewis County Murd - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: 3 Men Arrested in Connection with 1999 Lewis County Murder

Posted: Updated:
Joseph Metz, 39, charged in cold case murder of Stalnaker and Friend Joseph Metz, 39, charged in cold case murder of Stalnaker and Friend
Marcus Maxine Stalnaker, Mary Geneva Friend (Courtesy: West Virginia State Police) Marcus Maxine Stalnaker, Mary Geneva Friend (Courtesy: West Virginia State Police)
David Hughes; charged in cold case murder of Stalnaker and Friend David Hughes; charged in cold case murder of Stalnaker and Friend
Steve Freeman; charged in cold case murder of Stalnaker and Friend Steve Freeman; charged in cold case murder of Stalnaker and Friend
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Update:

Two of the men arrested in connection with the deaths of Maxine Stalnaker and Mary Friend have been extradited back to West Virginia.

Charles "Steve" Freeman, 51, and David Hughes, 58, each face murder, kidnapping, and robbery charges after Stalnaker and Friend disappeared in December of 1999. Both were arrested in Ohio in September.

They're in the Central Regional Jail with no bail set.

Joseph Metz, the third man arrested in connection with the cold case, will appear in court later this week.

Original Story:

A man was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the deaths of his mother and grandmother Wednesday night.

Joseph Metz, 39, is charged with two counts of first degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and two counts of robbery.

Metz is the son of Mary Friend and grandson of Maxine Stalnaker, who went missing from Lewis County in 1999. Friend's car was later recovered in Harrison County.  Stalnaker and Friend are listed as two of five missing local residents on the West Virginia State Police website.

Metz was a target of the investigation for several years, even submitting to a polygraph test.

David Hughes, the former owner of the Wilderness Plantation in Jane Lew, conspired with Joseph Metz and Steve Freeman to kidnap, rob, and murder Stalnaker and Friend, according to a criminal complaint. Hughes ordered Metz and Freeman to remove the women from their Fox Run house off of Jesse's Run Road in Lewis County, the criminal complaint states.  The women were taken to a residence on Jesse's Run Road, where the men took their possessions, including a purse, before killing them, according to a criminal complaint.  Hughes said he ordered the murder because the purse contained a writing tablet with information about illegal criminal transactions about business affairs the men were involved in, said the complaint.  Hughes feared that the women would turn the incriminating evidence over to law enforcement.

The purse was later recovered by a fisherman in Lewis County in 2002.  There were items in the purse, according to the complaint, although the writing tablet was missing.  Metz and Freeman told Hughes that they took the women to Jesse's Run, killed them, and met him at the Wilderness Plantation in Jane Lew to provide him with the writing tablet, the criminal complaint states.

Metz was arraigned in Lewis County early Thursday morning. He is currently in the Central Regional Jail with bail set at $250,000.  David Hughes is being held at the Northwest Ohio Correction Center and has been charged with two counts of first degree murder, two counts of kidnapping, and two counts of robbery.  Steve Freeman was arrested Thursday afternoon by law enforcement in Ohio and is also being held at the Northwest Ohio Correction Center.  Freeman is facing murder, kidnapping, and robbery charges, said Lewis County Sheriff Adam Gissy at a press conference Thursday.  Hughes and Freeman will be extradited to West Virginia at a later date. Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact the Lewis County Sheriff's Department at 304-269-8251.

Friend and Stalnaker went missing Dec. 1, 1999.  Friend's vehicle was recovered abandoned in Clarksburg five days later.  (Click here to read the missing persons report PDF)

In April 2012, a vigil was held in Lewis County to raise awareness and remember those missing from the area.

Other local missing persons cases that have been left unsolved include the disappearances of a Lewis County girl, Aliayah Lunsford; and two Buckhannon men, Luke Stout and Clarden Rowan, Jr.

Sheriff Gissy said that cooperation between multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Lewis County Sheriff's Department, Harrison County Sheriff's Department, and West Virginia State Police made the arrests possible.