Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 31, 2014

State witness testifies that cellophane was used to smother War mayor

WELCH — The state moved closer to resting its case today as Jeri Roncella, the sister of War Mayor Tom Hatcher, and McDowell County Deputy Ron Blevins testified about the death of the mayor and the investigation that resulted in the arrest of Earl Click.

 Under direct examination by McDowell County Prosecutor Edward Kornish, Roncella testified that she told her brother, Tom Hatcher, to move his son, John, and daughter-in-law Becky Hatcher out of the house, but, “he didn’t feel like he could take care of (his grandson,) Jonathan, by himself,” Roncella testified.

Blevins testified that Earl Click became a suspect when his uncle, Roy Harding, told investigators that Click had used cellophane to smother Hatcher. “Nobody else knew that,” Blevins testified.

The trial will resume 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Earl Click, 28, was a War native who was living in Grundy, Va., when War Mayor Hatcher was killed. Tom Hatcher was found dead shortly before noon on July 17, 2012, by city of War employees who went to check on him when he didn’t appear for work.

Rebecca Hatcher, 32, and her brother, Earl Click, were both originally charged with conspiracy to murder Mayor Hatcher — Rebecca Hatcher’s father-in-law. However, a jury found Rebecca Hatcher not guilty of first-degree murder last year. They were unable to reach a verdict on a second charge of conspiracy forcing Circuit Court Judge Rudolph J. Murensky II to declare a mistrial on the conspiracy indictment count. She is set to be retried on the conspiracy charge next month.

Law enforcement officers who investigated the case alleged that robbery to get money to purchase illegal prescription drugs was the motive in the crime.

Mayor Hatcher, 72, a native of Iaeger who grew up in War, was a tireless advocate for War, McDowell County and the southern West Virginia/southwestern Virginia region.

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