Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 2, 2013

Police continue probe of woman’s death

SPANISHBURG — Authorities are still looking for crucial pieces of information in the death of a McDowell County woman whose body was discovered in the Bluestone River two years ago.

Crystal Cantrell, 35, of Davy, was last seen grocery shopping at a supermarket in Welch with her mother in August 2010. She was reported missing by her family on Aug. 6, 2010.

Cantrell’s body was found in the Bluestone River on Aug. 10, 2012, only four days after she was first reported missing. Her body was discovered by family members only feet from where her Ford Explorer was parked on Gardner Road in Spanishburg. Members of the West Virginia State Police and Princeton Rescue Squad removed Cantrell’s body from the river and it was sent to the West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office in South Charleston.

Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash said Cantrell’s case is one he will not soon forget.

“The case file the police have turned in to me always sits to the right of my desk,” Ash said. “What was particularly bad about this case was the victim had been missing for a few days, dead for a few days and had been thrown into the Bluestone River. The family located her body because it was near where her car was parked. To have to find your family member after being exposed to the elements for that many days is horrendous. We hope to solve this case for them.”

Family members describe Cantrell as “a wonderful, devoted mother” who coached her two sons’ baseball and football teams. Her sister recalls Cantrell as “a great, all-around person” who was always helping others.

Ash said he and troopers with the West Virginia State Police Princeton detachment still need a few more pieces of evidence before they can move forward with charges in the case.

“This is a case that has been well investigated by Trooper J.R. Baker, but still lacks that one piece of evidence that would allow successful prosecution,” he said. “Unfortunately, there was such a rash of homicides during that time that this one might have fallen under the radar for some people. We know the family and haven’t forgotten them, but we are sort of at an impasse. We could really use one or two more pieces of evidence to solve this case. At present, we are at a stalemate. We are still open to leads, but not ready to make an arrest.”

Ash said any witnesses who come forward could help close the case.

“If you saw something, even if you didn’t think it was important, we ask you come forward,” Ash said. “There was a former boyfriend who admits to being with the victim before her death and admits to hitchhiking into Spanishburg. Anyone who can confirm or contradict this evidence would be greatly helpful.”

Though the case is two years old, Ash said it is not unusual for cases to be solved or revived this long after the crime was committed.

“It depends on the case,” Ash said. “Sometimes, memories are going to fade and people who are not in someway involved in the case may not be able to remember if they were on Gardner Road in Spanishburg on Aug. 6, 2010. Sometimes people come forward after a period of time when they know something has gone on and their conscience has gotten the better of them.”

Anyone with any information on the case is asked to contact the State Police Princeton detachment at 304-425-2101.

— Contact Kate Coil at

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