Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 22, 2013

2 indicted in War homicide

Bluefield Daily Telegraph


 — A McDowell County grand jury returned indictments naming 61 people for a variety of charges including first degree murder and felony conspiracy related to the July 17, 2012 homicide of War Mayor Dr. Thomas C. Hatcher.

McDowell County law enforcement officers allege that the two persons charged with the crime — Hatcher’s daughter-in-law, Rebecca Lynn Hatcher, 30, of War, and her brother, Earl J. Click, 26, of Big Rock, Va. — murdered Hatcher to steal approximately $1,100 in cash to purchase drugs, according to previous reports following the arrests of the two. Hatcher and Click are charged with one count each of first degree murder and felony conspiracy.

Hatcher, 72, was found at his residence by a city of War employee who went to check on him when he didn’t arrive in the mayor’s office on his typical schedule. Hatcher was a dedicated public servant, educator, historian and friend to many throughout the region.

The grand jury also returned two indictments naming Danny Ray Payne, 49, of Bradshaw and charging him with one count of attempted first degree murder as well as two counts of malicious wounding, two counts of brandishing a deadly weapon, along with one count each of robbery in the first degree, grand larceny and assault during the commission of a felony.

The indictments stem from an incident that occurred in Bartley late in the evening of April 23, 2008. State Police were dispatched to Bartley to investigate. Cpl. C.K. Morton spoke with a man who had been wounded, and his investigation ultimately led to Payne’s arrest.

In a more recent case involving the theft of copper in western McDowell County, the grand jury indicted three individuals, Haskel Blankenship, 26, Buddy Blankenship, 23, and Ricky Johnson Jr., 29, all of Panther, on one count each of damage to public utility property, and one count each of conspiracy.

Trooper First Class B.J. Garretson was the lead investigator of a detachment-wide investigation into the theft of copper from public utilities in the western section of McDowell County. State police arrested two suspects, Haskel Blankenship and Johnson on July 20, 2012, and arrested Buddy Blankenship later.

— Contact Bill Archer at