CHARLESTON –A Roane County man whose teenage daughter went missing for seven years before her body was finally discovered near the Wirt/Roane county line is seeking answers as to why her disappearance, and death remain unsolved.
Jesse Starcher on June 27 filed suit against the West Virginia State Police, the Roane County 911 Center and the city of Spencer in Kanawha Circuit Court. In his complaint, Starcher, 49, of Spencer, seeks an order compelling them to release under the state Freedom of Information Act documents in their possession relating to his daughter, Christian Dawn Starcher Seabolt who, then 18-years-old, went missing nearly a decade ago, and whose remains were later discovered in 2009.
In his 26-page complaint, Starcher details how he attempted to get answers from the State Police’s Roane County detachment, the city of Spencer and the 911 Center about Christian’s disappearance on Aug. 31, 2002. Records show requests he made starting in 2004 were denied on the grounds that information he was requesting were part of an on-going investigation.
Shortly after Christian’s skeletal remains were discovered on Groundhog Ridge near Creston on Dec. 16, 2009, Starcher again made requests for information, including an emergency call Christian made to the 911 Center the day before she went missing. All his requests, which were made as late as August were denied either on the grounds of, again, a pending investigation or his failure to state with specificity the information he was requesting.
In his suit, Starcher openly accuses Hueston M. Eads, a Spencer police officer, of either having knowledge of or being complicit in Christian’s disappearance. At his suggestion, Starcher says Christian spoke with Eads about information she had relating to the murder of Ronnie Stag.
According to Starcher, Christian “implicated several Clay County law enforcement officers in drug-related activity.” Also, Starcher maintains that sometime after Christian went missing, Judd Reed, who accompanied her on several occasions to speak with Eads, was murdered.
Though he was “dismissive of Christian’s story,” Starcher says Eads was “successful in involving himself into both the handling of Christian Starcher’s disappearance and the investigation of the murder of Judd Reed, in spite of the fact that the murder unquestionably occurred outside his jurisdiction, namely, outside Spencer and in rural Roane County.”
In his suit, Starcher says that the excuse offered by the State Police, the 911 Center and the city of Spencer in denying his FOIA requests on the grounds “that a genuine investigation of the matter was ongoing” is “a sham.” Instead, he says “the report of investigation and the contents of the tape are being withheld from him primarily to protect law-enforcement personnel who may have had some level of responsibility in [Christian's] disappearance.”
Along with one compelling release of the information he’s requested, Starcher seeks another ordering the State Registrar of Vital Statistics to issue a death certificate for Christian so he can qualify as administrator of her estate in order to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Also, he seeks recovery of court costs, and attorneys fees.
Starcher is represented by Charleston attorney David R. Karr Jr. The case is assigned to Judge Paul Zakaib.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 12-C-1204