Murder-suicide prompts suits against Kanawha sheriff

By Lawrence Smith | Aug 20, 2009

CHARLESTON - A domestic-violence murder-suicide that left three people dead in Sissonville last year is the subject of three lawsuits against the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department.

CHARLESTON - A domestic-violence murder-suicide that left three people dead in Sissonville last year is the subject of three lawsuits against the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department.

Constance K. Raines, and the estates of Gina R. Sigmond and Steven Woodall have filed suit against KSCD and four of its deputies, A.J. Miller, Cpl. D.H. Duff and Lts. Sean Crosier and Greg Young in Kanawha Circuit Court. In the respective complaints filed on Aug. 13, each alleges all were responsible for failing to provide a secure environment in which Sigmond could collect belongings from the home of her estranged husband, Edgar L. Sigmond Jr., last February which enabled Edgar to shoot and kill Gina and Woodall before turning the weapon on himself.

The Kanawha County Commission, which, along with KCSD , is a joint employer of the deputies, is named as a co-defendant in the suit.

Hoping to start anew

According to court records, Raines, 56, of Nitro, and Woodall, 52, of Huntington, accompanied Gina Sigmond, 41, to the home she once shared with Edgar on 7929 Sissonville Road on Feb. 16, 2008 to collect the remainder of her belongings. Following a domestic violence protective order she filed against Edgar on Feb. 11 in Kanawha Magistrate Court, Gina was able to make a quick trip to the home the next day to get some essential items, including clothing for herself, and school supplies for her two minor children.

Though the emergency petition Magistrate Jack Pauley granted both temporary possession of the Sigmond home to Gina, records show she wanted "to establish a new safe and secure family home." Along with Raines, a co-worker at her home-health agency, and Woodall -- Raines' fiancee -- Sigmond made arrangements for deputies to escort them to the home while she collected her belongings.

Records show Edgar, 43, was served with the protective order on Feb. 14, and arrested on a warrant for worthless checks, and driving on a revoked operator's license.

The suits allege that Gina made tentative arrangements with KSCD on Friday, Feb. 15 for a deputy to meet her at the Fas-Check Supermarket near the Sigmond residence the next morning. After renting a U-Haul truck on Saturday, Sigmond called KSCD to inform them she'd be arriving at Fas-Check about 15 minutes late.

Records show Miller and Duff were the first to arrive on the scene. Though they arrived separately, and at different times, the suits allege that they seemed more eager to gain access to a locked auto repair garage Edgar kept on the property than help Gina collect her things.

Ulterior motives

According to the suits, several deputies including Duff, attempted to gain entry into the garage the evening before. The reason being was to aid Craig and Tammy Reed in retrieving a truck they had inside.

At 9:22 a.m., Duff arrived at the garage which was at the bottom of the driveway leading to the Sigmond's property awaiting the Reed's arrival. About two minutes later, following Sigmond, Raines and Woodall, Miller comes up the driveway, pulling off to tell Duff Sigmond did not bring the keys to the garage.

After arriving at the house, the suits allege that Miller got out of his cruiser to help guide the U-Haul closer to the home's front porch. Thereafter, the suits allege Miller "remained outside the house for a period of time and engaged in small talk" with Sigmond, Woodall and Raines.

Included in the small talk was gaining permission from Sigmond to gain access to the garage. After informing Miller she did not have the keys, and she was reluctant to give them permission to break into the garage, Sigmond told him she would get the keys, and return later that evening with another deputy.

About this same time, the Reeds arrive at shop around 9:32 a.m. where they met Duff. After using a knife to break into the locked shop, the suits allege Duff instructed the Reeds at 9:38 a.m. to go up the driveway and exchange information with Sigmond about moving their truck since it had no transmission.

Records show, after sending the Reeds up the hill, Duff left the scene at 9:43 a.m., and went to the Sissonville Go-Mart.

At a time not stated, and for reasons not immediately clear, Miller left the Sigmond property. Neither Sigmond, Woodall or Raines realized this until the Reeds approached them about moving their truck.

As she told Miller, Sigmond told the Reeds she would meet them later that evening with a deputy and help them get the truck out. After she took their name, address and telephone number, records show the Reeds began backing down the driveway.

10 minutes of terror

Shortly thereafter, the suits allege Edgar appeared from behind a tree, rushed the house with a rifle and confronted Gina, Woodall and Raines. While inside the house, Edgar shot Gina, "spraying her blood and body matter into Constance Raines' hair, face and clothing."

According to the suits, Edgar next shot Woodall in the back. As Edgar was preparing to shoot Raines, Gina was able to get up and run outside the house, with Edgar following her.

After she soiled herself, records show Raines ran into a closet and hid, hearing another shot. About that time, the Reeds witnessed Gina approach them with her right arm blown apart before collapsing on her back.

Tammy Reed then immediately called 9-1-1 to report what happened. Records show, Miller, who'd been gone from the scene for about five to 10 minutes, returned in four minutes followed by Duff at 9:53 a.m.

In the meantime, hearing no activity, Raines exited the closet where she found Woodall gasping for breath. In the process of attempting to locate his cell phone so she, too, could call 9-1-1, Raines looked outside a window and saw Edgar lying on the ground next to Gina.

Continued chaos

Despite the cessation of Edgar's rampage, the scene at the Sigmond house remained chaotic, records show.

At about 10 a.m., a woman came by with Gina's 12-year old son, Zac, who'd spent the night with the woman's son. Arrangements had been previously made for Zac to be dropped off at the property while Gina was there.

At times not stated, Gina's eldest child Derek, 20, later arrived with his wife, Sarah. They were later followed by Gina's sister and brother-in-law who had Gina's 11-year-old daughter, Kaley.

All were there to help Gina load the U-Haul and leave Edgar behind. Records show, Derek and Sarah were at the house earlier that morning collecting what they could.

After the crime scene was secured by 10:36 a.m., the suits allege a dog was able to carry body parts away, and into a neighbor's yard. Later, a "deputy recovered a portion of a nose and pallet with an attached tooth, took it to the scene of the carnage and sat it on a rock."

'Maligning' the victim

After assuming responsibility for Zac and Kaley, records show Derek and Sarah obtained permission to remove them from the scene. However, the suits allege their effort was thwarted by Crosier, a KCSD spokesman, who "was blocking the road giving media interviews maligning Gina Sigmond and praising the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department for going above and beyond in an attempt to provide for her safety."

Frustrated by Crosier blocking his exit, records show Derek began honking his horn. This, the suits allege, prompted Crosier to "come to the car in a menacing fashion" and threaten "the distraught Derek Sigmond with arrest for blowing his horn and disrupting the media interviews."

The suits allege KCSD continued to malign Gina with Crosier first telling the media that she did not follow instructions by getting a modified order for a police escort then Young, KSCD's chief of detectives, saying she " 'wanted to take U-Haul and get more stuff.'" Also, Sheriff Michael Y. Rutherford's statement to the media that " 'He [Miller] tried to be helpful, tried to make it as safe as possible for her when he realized she was not taking is advice'" is "inconsistent with the facts."

All three suits make claims against the defendants for negligence, negligent supervision and training and civil conspiracy. Woodall's and Sigmond's suits make additional claims for wrongful death and conscious pain and suffering prior to death.

Also, all three plaintiffs allege the events of that day caused them to suffer, among other things, temporary and permanent physical injuries, emotional distress and pain and suffering as well as past and future loss of enjoyment of life, income and/or earning capacity and consortium. Woodall's estate is administered by his daughter, Ashley Kirk, 28, with Derek Sigmond serving as administrator for Gina's estate, and guardian of Zac and Kaley.

The suits seek unspecified damages, and a writ of mandamus ordering KCSD to "develop, adopt, implement and train deputies as to the policies and procedures to be followed with respect to providing assistance to victims of domestic violence."

Kirk, Raines and Sigmond are represented by Charleston attornies Mark R. Staun, Mark Kelly and Michael A. Olivio, respectfully. Both the Woodall and Raines cases are assigned to Judge Charles E. King Jr. while Sigmond's case is with Judge James C. Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court, Case Nos. 09-C-1502 (Woodall wrongful death), 09-C-1514 (Raines) and 09-C-1515 (Sigmond wrongful death)

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