Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 11, 2011

2007 Welch murder remains unsolved

CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WELCH — Troopers with the West Virginia State Police Welch Detachment had just cleared an unrelated call in the Northfork community when they were flagged down by several individuals at the mouth of Northfork Hollow.

The day was July 28, 2007. The individuals who stopped the troopers reported hearing a gunshot at a house located near the Northfork Fire Department, and across the road from the Demon Burger Restaurant.

“Myself, Trooper (K.L.) Pack and Trooper (J.W.) Keffer had just made an arrest up Northfork Hollow,” Trooper B.J. Garretson said. “As we were pulling out, we had a couple of people waving and pulling us over. They said they heard a gunshot. Myself and Trooper Pack ran up to the house and saw the man’s body was laying half in and half out of the house. It was a gunshot wound to the head. There was still music playing in the house. We missed it (the shooting) literally by about 10 or 15 minutes.”

Garretson said Brindsley Charles Ward, 53, of the Republic of Trinidad, died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the head. His body was found half way in and half way out of a front door.

“There was like a wooden door and a screen door,” Garretson said. “They were both open. His body was kind of restricting the door from shutting. The upper torso was outside and the lower body inside. The television was off, but music was playing. It was like somebody had been there. There was still cigarette smoke in the area. Whoever was there had just left. There was no weapon present, so there was no way it could be self-inflicted.”

The official police report had Ward’s address listed as unknown. But he was from the Republic of Trinidad, which is located in the northeastern coast of Venezuela. Garretson said the man also lived briefly in New York before arriving in Northfork. He had been in McDowell County for only a matter of weeks before being shot. Garretson said Wade has no known family members in the United States. Those who knew the man called him ”Triny” because he was from the Republic of Trinidad.

Garretson said Wade died inside of a residence owned by Torrence Ray, 39, of Northfork. Through the course of the investigation, police learned Ray, and two men from Kentucky, were in the house with Wade at the time he was shot. Garretson said Ray was known as “T-Ray.”

“When we got there, nobody was there,” Garretson said. “It was just the victim. I would probably say about an hour into it Mr. Ray came back home, and of course we spoke with him. He told us that himself, and two guys from Kentucky were there. He said they were trading horses.” The three men reported that an unknown gunman came to the house and shot Wade.

“T-Ray said everybody was just hanging out chilling,” Garretson said. “He said they heard a knock at the door. He said Triny (Wade) got up and answered it, and a guy and two girls were there, and shot Triny (Wade) in the face. They said this random guy just showed up at the door, shot him and took up running. They said he (the gunman) was a black male.”

Garretson said Ray is now in a federal penitentiary serving a 30-year sentence on unrelated drug-trafficking charges.

Garretson said officials were never able to locate the gunman who shot Wade.

“That was one of the things — it was just kind of strange,” Garretson said. “If the guy would have walked up to the door and shot Triny (Wade), there would have been shell casings. We combed everywhere. There were no shell casings. The bullet stayed in the victim’s skull. So we couldn’t get any kind of bullet path.”

Garretson said the witnesses who heard a gunshot while outside of the restaurant didn’t see anyone run out of the house.

“They heard gunshots, and came right out, and we talked to them and nobody saw anyone run or drive away,” Garretson said. No one has been charged in connection with the fatal shooting to date.

While the three men said they met in Northfork to discuss buying or trading horses, Garretson said no horses were found on the property. Garretson said investigators also were unable to locate any family members or relatives of Wade.

“He was from Trinidad, and came to New York, and I don’t think he really established an address up there, and he just came down here,” Garretson said. “He had been in the county for just a couple of weeks. Where he was from Trinidad, and nobody really knew him, they just called him Triny.”

While questions concerning the homicide remain unanswered today — four years later — Garretson said authorities are hopeful that someone who may have saw or heard something, will step forward to help solve the cold case.

“Hopefully somebody saw something or may have heard somebody talk about it,” Garretson said.

Anyone with any information concerning Wade’s homicide is asked to contact the West Virginia State Police Welch Detachment at (304) 436-2101.