UPDATE: Suspects arraigned in connection to death of Azareyiah Mitchell, trial date set

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UPDATE: Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at 2:15 p.m. (WVNS) — Two suspects in a high-profile murder investigation were arraigned in Summers County on Wednesday.

Steven Lawson was denied bond and Jalesea Bass is being held on a $250,000 bond. Lawson was arraigned on murder charges for the death of Azareyiah Mitchell, a teenager from Oak Hill who disappeared in September 2020. Bass was arraigned on a list of charges as well, including accessory to murder.

Lawson’s trial is set to begin November 8.


UPDATE: Tuesday, July 20, 2021 at 5:47 p.m. (WVNS) — Two people were indicted in Summers County on murder charges.

Steven Lawson and Jalesea Bass were indicted by a grand jury in a Summers County courtroom on Tuesday. Lawson was charged with first degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, concealment of a dead body and conspiracy to commit concealment of a dead body. He was indicted on the charges in connection to the death and disappearance of Azareyiah Mitchell from Oak Hill.

Bass was also indicted in connection to Mitchell’s death on charges of accessory to murder after the fact, concealment of a dead body and conspiracy to commit concealment of a dead body.

Mitchell went missing on September 30, 2020.


BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 — The two people arrested in connection to the murder of Azareyiah Mitchell were scheduled to be in court Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020.

Steven Lawson and Jalesea Bass were scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in front of Magistrate Judge Bill Jeffries in Summers County. Both chose to waive the hearing. 59 News could not be at the hearings because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Bass was charged with second degree murder, concealment of a deceased body and conspiracy. Lawson was charged with accessory to murder, concealment of a deceased body and conspiracy.

They are both in Southern Regional Jail with a $250,000 cash bond. Their case will now be presented to the grand jury.


1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020: A pair of arrests were made on Dec. 2, 2020 in the case of a missing teen from Oak Hill. West Virginia State Troopers said Azareyiah Mitchell was found dead.

According to State Police, a confrontation occurred between suspect Jalesea Bass and Azareyiah Mitchell. This is believed to have resulted in Mitchell’s death. Troopers found Mitchell’s body Monday, Dec. 1, 2020. Her body was recovered outside of West Virginia.

Jalesea Bass is accused of Second Degree Murder, Concealment of a Deceased Body and Conspiracy. Steven Lawson is facing charges of Accessory to Murder, Concealment of a Deceased Body and Conspiracy.

Troopers held a news conference at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday. This came after they informed the family about the case and the arrests. Both Bass and Lawson are being held in the Southern Regional Jail.


Friday, November 20, 2020 at 12:15 p.m. UPDATE: A person of interest in a missing girl case was scheduled to be in court Friday, Nov. 20, 2020.

Steven Lawson is out on bond on a charge of Possession with Intent to Deliver Narcotics from an incident in July 2020. On Friday, a probable cause hearing was scheduled. However, Lawson chose to waive time and the trial was rescheduled. He hired Robert Dunlap as his lawyer.

Lawson is a person of interest in the case of Azareyiah Mitchell, a missing teen out of Oak Hill. Mitchell was reported missing on Sept. 30, 2020.


Friday, November 13, 2020 at 11:35 a.m. UPDATE: A person of interest in the investigation into a missing Oak Hill teen was arrested in Georgia and extradited back to Raleigh County.

Steven Lawson was arrested on unrelated charges in Georgia, but brought back to Raleigh County regarding an investigation in the Beckley area.

According to court documents, Beckley Police responded to a report of shots fired near Dock Street on July 15, 2020. Upon arrival, a green Ford Crown Victoria with no registration was partially blocking the road, making it difficult for EMS crews to get through.

After a towing company moved the car, officers searched the vehicle and reportedly found inside Fentanyl, six guns, and two sets of digital scales. They also discovered a crystal-like substance, which was later confirmed as methamphetamine by the West Virginia State Police Lab.

Investigators said they also found in the trunk an invoice for vehicle service addressed to Lawson, whose residence is on Dock Street.

Officers reportedly found a lanyard containing keys to the Crown Victoria, a Chevrolet, and a Kawasaki motorcycle. When searching the area for other vehicles, officers said they found a Kawasaki motorcycle in a driveway along Dock Street. Information from the Division of Motor Vehicles’ database revealed the motorcycle belonged to Lawson, according to court documents.

Forensics investigators with the West Virginia State Police Lab are still analyzing fingerprints obtained by Beckley Police from the vehicle.

Lawson is currently in Southern Regional Jail. His bail is set at $25,000.

Stick with 59 News as we bring you more updates on this case.


Monday, November 2, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. UPDATE: A person of interest in the investigation into a missing Oak Hill teen was arrested in Georgia, and was extradited back to Raleigh County.

Jalesa Bass was arrested on charges of Unlawful Wounding and Conspiracy to Commit a Felony. The charges are from an incident at Cheddar’s in Beckley on June 3, 2020.

Bass was arrested in Georgia, along with Steven Lawson. They are both persons of interest in the investigation into the missing girl, Azareyiah Mitchell.

Lawson is still in custody in Georgia. Bass is in Southern Regional Jail on a $15,000 bond.


Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. UPDATE: BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — West Virginia State Police released details about a vehicle they are looking for in the investigation into the missing girl, Azareyiah Mitchell.

Troopers said they are looking for a 2002 Green Chevrolet Tahoe. They believe the car is not on the roads, but may be parked somewhere.

The suspect vehicle is similar to this 2002 Green Tahoe

Troopers also released this picture of Mitchell, which they say was taken just hours before she went missing. They believe she could be still wearing what she is in this picture.

Troopers ask that anyone with information contact them at (304) 469-2915.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at 5 p.m. — Two persons of interest in a missing person case were arrested in Georgia.

According to West Virginia State Troopers, Steven Lawson and Jalesa Bass were arrested on Friday, October 16, 2020 in Georgia. Troopers told 59News they were arrested on charges from an unrelated investigation.

No other details were released.


Friday, October 9, 2020 at 3 p.m. UPDATE: BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — West Virginia State Police held a joint press conference with U.S. Marshals on Friday, October 9, 2020 regarding the missing teen investigation.

Troopers identified two persons of interest in the case. Steven Marvin Lawson is the boyfriend of the missing teen, Azareyiah Mitchell. Troopers believe he was with Mitchell at the time she was reported missing. Troopers also said 19-year-old Jalesa Bass was also with Mitchell when she was reported missing.

If anyone has any information, contact WVSP at (304)-256-6700.


OAK HILL, WV (WVNS) — Troopers with the West Virginia State Police Oak Hill detachment need help finding a missing teen.

Azareyiah Mitchell, who also goes by the name Rae Rae, was reported missing on September 30, 2020. She is 17-years-old with brown hair and brown eyes. She is 5’4″ and weighs around 120 pounds.

According to Cpl. John Syner, she was reported missing to the Oak Hill detachment, but Mitchell was staying at home in Jumping Branch in Summers County.

Cpl. Syner also told 59News a search was conducted on Wednesday, October 7, 2020 in the Shady Spring – Beaver area of Raleigh County. Syner said they were following up on a tip and were searching late into the evening.

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