SLANESVILLE, W.Va. — Investigators in Hampshire County believe an ongoing child custody battle was the motive for last week’s murder of Slanesville-area resident Michael O’Hara.
Chief Deputy Nathan Sions said deputies believe O’Hara was killed by his estranged wife Mandy O’Hara, 36, and John Shoemaker, 21, both of Capon Bridge, over the O’Hara’s five children. Sions said the two had been separated since at least March.
Sions said the murder was not related to drug activity. He said the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Department is asking the public to respect the family in regards to online postings and comments. He said the area near Slanesville is a small, close-knit community whose residents are grieving.
At about 5:30 a.m. last Thursday morning emergency dispatchers received a call from a man who found a body lying in the roadway along Hickory Corner Road. Deputies believe Mandy O’Hara and Shoemaker broke into Michael O’Hara’s home and killed him in his bedroom. The state medical examiner’s report said O’Hara died from a stab wound to the neck.
O’Hara and Shoemaker then allegedly wrapped his body in a tarp and tied it to their vehicle. When the body came loose from the vehicle, eyewitness approached O’Hara and Shoemaker, who fled the scene. The eyewitness chased the car to get a better description, but lost sight of the vehicle. The eyewitness then had to go to a location on Hickory Corner Road where he could get cell service and call for police assistance.
Deputies said while the eyewitness was calling police, the suspects went back to the scene, tied the victim’s body to the back of their car and dragged the body to the North River, where it was found by deputies.
Deputies have also charged Gabriella Clutter, 21, with conspiracy to commit murder. Clutter, O’Hara and Workman are being held in the Potomac Highlands Regional Jail.