Martinsburg lawyer charged with murder

By John O'Brien | Sep 27, 2006

MARTINSBURG - The strange case of an apparently murdered woman whose decomposed and dismembered body was found in two suitcases has led to the arrest of a Martinsburg bankruptcy lawyer.

Stephen Fielder, 57, was arraigned Sept. 25 on a charge of first-degree murder and is being held without bond at Eastern Regional Jail.

The saga began when the remains of Debra Ann Fielder, 49, were found on Aug. 20 by two fishermen at Back Creek in Berkeley County.

Police say investigators discovered the weights and suitcases used were sold exclusively at Wal-Mart and traced the purchase back to Stephen Fielder, who was filmed buying the set of weights.

Debra Fielder was Stephen's ex-wife. The two were divorced in 2002, though, reportedly, Debra was living with Stephen.

Before that, they married in 1995 and moved to Martinsburg. Fielder has been a member of the State Bar Association since 1982.

Martinsburg attorney Craig Manford is representing Fielder, whose own law office reportedly told Cpl. Brian Bean of the Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force that Debra had moved to North Carolina.

Days later, Dr. John Carson, the state's chief dental examiner, examined the body and matched it with Debra Fielder's dental records.

At a preliminary hearing on Sept. 25, it came to light that parts of Fielder's basement had been freshly painted. Blood was found in a fire pit outside his home and was sent to the State Police Crime Lab for analysis.

Police also recovered a canoe that Fielder recently gave to an Inwood family. Bean said Fielder often took camping trips in the Sleepy Creek area, where one route would take him past the area his ex-wife's body was found.

He faces life in prison if convicted.

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