CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Below is an interactive timeline of the history of the West Virginia State Police investigation.
The investigation started after a five-page anonymous letter was sent to Governor Jim Justice (R-WV), Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and a host of state lawmakers.
The most serious allegations include sexual assaults, thefts, and damage to state-owned property at the state police academy. Other accusations include a hidden camera in the women’s locker room, misuse of taxpayer funds and some troopers billing for overtime they did not work.
Fearing retaliation by State Police, the author of the letter did not sign it. Governor Justice has acknowledged the investigation, which is being done by the department of homeland security.
In February, it was estimated the investigation will take two or three more months to complete.
In a press conference, Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) said that he could not comment on the specifics of an investigation into WVSP, but he said that he fully supports “cutting out bad actors.” He added that the public should remember that working in law enforcement is a “tough job.”
Another allegation stems from another anonymous letter about an incident in May 2021. In it, the writer says that an “appointee of Colonel [Jan] Cahill” was caught on camera stealing cash from a man at the Mardi Gras Casino in Cross Lanes.
On Feb. 24, a member of the West Virginia State Police, Joseph Comer, was arrested and charged with domestic battery and felony strangulation.
According to a criminal complaint from Ritchie County Magistrate Court, Joseph Comer is alleged to have strangled a woman on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, in the gravel parking lot of the Sleep Inn of Ellenboro on Main St. in Ellenboro, West Virginia.
The complaint says that during a scheduled child exchange, Comer grabbed the woman around the neck, leaving bruises indicative of being choked or strangled.
Another criminal complaint, also out of Ritchie County, says that Comer struck a woman in the head with a sippy cup, resulting in the victim getting a black eye. This alleged incident took place on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022, at the same location as the strangulation.
The attorney for a West Virginia State Police Trooper who is facing criminal charges says he’s mailed notice to the WVSP and the West Virginia Attorney General of plans to sue.
Attorney David Moye told 13 News his client, Trooper Joseph Comer will sue for, among other things, defamation of character, retaliatory conduct, and false arrest.
Comer’s original court date was set for March 8 but was rescheduled to March 13. On March 13, the strangulation case was sent to a grand jury.
The West Virginia Department of Homeland Security was ordered to search the devices of people within the West Virginia State Police administration.
In a memo issued on March 2, 2023, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s Chief of Staff Brian Abraham directed the WVDHS to investigate “multiple allegations of potential improper or alleged criminal actions within the administration of the West Virginia State Police.”
On March 9, then-Superintendent Jan Cahill spoke to 13 News. He resigned on March 20.
On March 21, Gov. Jim Justice released footage of the alleged money theft incident involving a West Virginia State Police captain.
On March 23, Mardi Gras Casino released an incident report detailing the alleged theft.
Also on March 23, a Wheeling-based lawyer filed a “30-Day Notice of Intent to Sue” on behalf of female law enforcement officers who may have been videotaped dressing and undressing.
On March 24, The resignation letter of the West Virginia State Police Captain that the Justice Administration says was caught on camera taking money that did not belong to him at the Mardi Gras Casino has been released, following a Freedom of Information Act Request.
Also on March 24, West Virginia State Police superintendent Colonel Jack Chambers issued an apology to the potential victims of the hidden camera in the women’s locker room at the West Virginia State Police Academy.