Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

August 6, 2009

Richlands death ruled homicide

RICHLANDS, Va. — Virginia medical examiners have ruled that the death of a West Virginia man whose body was found Tuesday in local motel was a homicide.

The person found at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning at the Hill Top Motel off the George C. Perry Highway in Richlands. Va., is John Wargo, 69, of Warrior Mine Road in War, W.Va., Chief William Puckett said Thursday during a press conference at the Richlands Police Department. Wargo was reported missing at 8:36 p.m. Monday to the sheriff’s departments in McDowell County and in Tazewell County when he failed to return from a trip to a Tazewell, Va., flea market.

A preliminary investigation indicated that on Monday at approximately 11 a.m., “an individual identified as John Wargo” came to the Hill Top Motel and checked into Room 24, Puckett said. At 11 a.m. Tuesday, a member of the motel’s staff entered the room and discovered the body. Further investigation at the scene indicated that the vehicle Wargo had arrived in, a green 2003 Subaru Legacy, was no longer at the motel.

After an extensive search in the northeastern and western districts of Tazewell County and adjacent areas of Russell and Buchanan counties, the car was discovered in “a nearby jurisdiction in Southwest Virginia,” Puckett said. He declined to say exactly where the car had been found.

One person, an adult male arrested on unrelated charges, is now in custody, Puckett said. He declined to release this person’s name, where he was arrested, and where he was incarcerated. He had not been arrested in connection with Wargo’s death.

“This gentleman, this suspect, has not been formally charged,” Puckett said. “There’s been a lot of speculation in regards to this matter. There is no continued threat to the public’s safety.”

Until formal charges have been filed in the investigation, more details about the suspect’s identity would not be released, Puckett said.

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