PRINCETON — A squabble over cigarettes led to the fatal shotgun slayings of a Lashmeet family, police testified Tuesday.

Deborah Carol Fuller, 56, of Lashmeet, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of grand larceny in connection with the May 8 shooting deaths of Effie Roberts, 95, Fuller’s mother by adoption, and Roberts’ daughter, Effie Akers, 73. All three women lived in the same home on Bicknal Flats Road in Lashmeet.

During a preliminary hearing before Magistrate Mike Flanigan, Sgt. J.R. Pauley, of the West Virginia State Police Princeton Detachment, recalled the events leading up to Fuller’s arrest and questioning, including her confession and a statement she gave to troopers about an end-time biblical prophecy.

Pauley testified that Akers and Roberts died as a result of individual gunshot wounds to the head. During the course of the investigation, Pauley said officials learned that Fuller also resided at the residence, and a 1991 Chrysler New Yorker owned by Effie Roberts was missing.

When the vehicle was located and stopped in Grayson County, Va., Pauley said Roberts told a state police trooper in Virginia that she had shot two people in West Virginia. A shotgun was located in the trunk of the vehicle.

Pauley said troopers later interviewed Fuller at the New River Valley Regional Jail, where she confessed to the slayings.

“She gave a statement where she did admit to shooting both individuals,” Pauley said. “Apparently there was an argument over some cigarettes.”

Pauley said Akers went to the store earlier in the day, and Fuller apparently became upset when the woman didn’t bring back cigarettes. Pauley testified that Fuller subsequently retrieved a shotgun from the bedroom of the residence, and told Akers to leave.

Pauley said Fuller then told troopers that at some point Akers tried grab the shotgun, at which time Fuller pulled the trigger.

“She had to actually reload the shotgun to shoot Mrs. Roberts,” Pauley said in response to questions from Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kelli Harshbarger.

Pauley said Fuller allegedly removed the shotgun shells from the scene. He said Roberts was found deceased in the living room of the residence, and Akers was discovered deceased in a porch area.

During cross examination, defense attorney and public defender Scott Ash asked Pauley if Fuller talked about such biblical events as the “abomination of the desolation” and “Mount Zion” in her statement to the troopers.

“She spoke of the end of days and the coming of Christ,” Pauley said of the statement police took from Fuller.

When asked by Ash if Fuller was confused over who she shot, Pauley said Fuller indicated she knew she shot Effie Akers, but “there was some question over Mrs. Roberts.” Pauley said Fuller suggested Roberts might have been someone else.

Fuller took notes during Tuesday’s hearing, and listened to Ash and defense attorney Omar Aboulhosn. At one point, she indicated to Ash that something he had written down was incorrect.

Pauley said Fuller willingly spoke to troopers at the New River Valley Regional Jail, adding the majority of the conversation was recorded.

“For a lack of a better word, she was on a roll,” Pauley said of Fuller during the questioning.

When asked by Ash what motive state police are alleging in the case, Pauley said the initial shooting was the result of an apparent argument over cigarettes.

“Did she discuss anything about the Queen of Zion?” Ash asked Pauley.

“Not that I recall,” Pauley said.

Ash then asked Pauley if troopers discovered any religious items in the house, and if a computer in the house was searched. Pauley said several Bibles were found in the house, as well as a laptop computer.

No witnesses were called to the stand by Ash. Following the conclusion of the state’s testimony, Flanigan found probable cause to bound the case against Roberts to the next session of the Mercer County grand jury.

— Contact Charles Owens at

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