Two men charged in the death of two Lewis County women were in court today.
Joseph Metz appeared before special Magistrate Tammy Marple in Weston today.
Metz faces two murder charges in the 1999 disappearance of Maxine Stalnaker and Mary Friend. Met'z preliminary hearing included a testimony from Upshur County Magistrate, Mike Coffman, who was a deputy in Lewis County when the investigation began.
The hearing was continued while subpoenas for those hearings are challenged in circuit court. David Hughes also appeared in court before Magistrate Marple this morning.
Hughes waived his preliminary hearing and will next appear in circuit court. He is expected to plead guilty to one charge of conspiracy in the case.
Lewis County Sheriff Adam Gissy said the sheriff's department has arrested Joseph Metz, 39, and charged him with two counts of murder in connection to the deaths of his mother and grandmother.
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. The sheriff's department charged David Hughes with conspiracy to commit robbery of Stalnaker and Friend in Dec. 2013. David Hughes told law enforcement that Metz said, "I shot them". When Hughes inquired what Metz had done with the bodies, he replied, "We wrapped them up and took them away", according to a criminal complaint.
Metz was a target of the investigation for several years, and he even submitted to a polygraph test. Metz was arrested in Sept. 2013 but the charges were later dropped. Metz appeared before Harrison County Magistrate Tammy Marple by video conference in Lewis County Magistrate Court Thursday.
"The arrest of Mr. Metz this morning will hopefully bring forth justice for Mary Friend and Maxine Stalnaker. The terrible incident that occurred in December of 1999 has haunted the family and friends of these two innocent women, and we hope that through the adjudication process the defendant will be held accountable for his actions," said Gissy in a statement.
One of the three men originally charged in connection with the robbery, kidnapping and murder of Maxine Stalnaker and Mary Friend on Dec. 1, 1999, has been arrested on a new charge.
The Lewis County Sheriff's Department has charged David Hughes with conspiracy to commit robbery of Stalnaker and Friend. Hughes is accused of conspiring with Joseph Metz and Charles Stephen Freeman to rob Stalnaker and Friend. Hughes ordered Metz and Freeman to forcibly take a purse and its contents from Friend in Dec. 1999, according to a criminal complaint. In Dec. 2013, Hughes admitted in a recorded interview that Friend had generated a notebook of associates pertaining to illegal drug transactions that were occurring at the Wilderness Plantation, according to a criminal complaint.
Hughes said Friend kept the tablet in her purse and that it would incriminate him if it was found by law enforcement. Hughes admitted that Metz and Freeman contacted him and said they had gotten the notebook and met him at the Wilderness Plantation where he obtained it from the men.
Metz and Freeman were charged in the original crime. Hughes, Metz and Freeman were released November 8, 2013. The charges against them were dismissed at that time without prejudice, meaning they could be re-filed. Lewis County Prosecutor Mike Smith said then there was also new evidence for investigators to consider.
Metz and Freeman have not been brought up on new charges at this time.
Magistrate Tammy Marple has dismissed murder charges against Charles Freeman, David Hughes and Joseph Metz. The three men were charged with the 14-year-old murder of Mary Friend and Maxine Stalnaker of Jane Lew.
Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Smith filed the motion to dismiss the charges, citing new evidence that needs to be considered. Smith said he wanted to be sure everything was done properly so the case would not be overturned after it was fully prosecuted.
Upshur County Magistrate Mike Coffman signed the arrest warrants for the three men after Lewis County Magistrates Rob Clem and Michael Gissy recused themselves since they had been involved with the investigation. Magistrate Coffman was a Lewis County Sheriff's Deputy during the investigation.
Freeman, Hughes, and Metz have been released. It's not clear if and when charges will be refiled.