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Killer gave investigators a death bed confession in death of woman and her young daughter

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The persistence of two law enforcement investigators is credited with advancing the search for a missing girl which finally ended Monday in Raleigh County after almost 24 years.

According to FBI Senior Supervisory Resident Agent of Charleston Tony Rausa, FBI Special Agent Jennifer King and State Police Corporal Ryan Stowers refused to give up in their quest for evidence. Larry Webb was always suspected of involvement in the disappearance of Susan Carter and her 10-year old daughter Alex Carter.

Rausa told reporters in a Tuesday press conference at State Police Headquarters in South Charleston a search warrant executed at Webb’s Beckley home 18-months ago yielded a treasure trove of evidence which confirmed their initial suspicions.

“In a bedroom known to have been occupied by 10-year old Alex Carter they were able to recover a bullet embedded in the wall behind the baseboard. That bullet was collected, sent to the FBI lab, and subsequent DNA results confirmed the blood on that bullet belonged to 10-year old Alex Carter,” said Rausa.

Investigators from the FBI, State Police, Raleigh County Sheriff’s Department, and Beckley City Police all collaborated on the case to gather more evidence. There was enough in hand to obtain an indictment against Webb by the Raleigh County grand jury. However, Webb was in poor health and was committed to a Beckley Nursing home.

The clencher for investigators came in conversations with Webb himself, who wanted to come clean.

“Larry Webb was on his death bed and was looking to meet Jesus. These guys did an excellent job at getting that confession out of him,” said Rausa.

Ben Hatfield

Raleigh County Prosecutor Ben Hatfield and his office’s investigating agent Jeff Shumate spoke at length with Webb earlier this month.

“It was a detailed, undeniable, unconflicted confession and it aligned exactly with the investigative efforts and the evidence collected,” said Hatfield.

According to Hatfield, Webb told them he got into an argument with Susan Carter after discovering cash at his home was missing and he believed she had taken and spent the money. During the argument he shot her, which led him to also kill 10-year old Alex to cover up the crime.

“Once he had killed both individuals he stored them in the basement of the home where he cried himself to sleep that night. Over the course of the next two nights he dug a shallow grave on his property,” said Hatfield.

Webb told police where he had deposited the two bodies, but because of the length of time, fading memory, and poor health he couldn’t be certain. He was even brought to the scene, but was unable to provide any specific spot to locate the remains. Investigators credited a pair of equipment operators from a local landscaping company with precision work to dig up the entire back yard down four and a half feet over three days before the discovery was made.

“On the third day of digging, they found the body of an adult and a child,” said Rausa.

The bodies were in the same grave and were clothed which investigators say was consistent with Webb’s confession.

Just over a week ago, Webb had been moved from the nursing home in Beckley to a nursing home wing and hospice at the Mount Olive Correctional Center. According to Hatfield, it was a coincidence he died the same day the bodies of his victims were found.

“In a twist of fate, we were able to get him incarcerated and transferred to Mount Olive. He was sent to Montgomery General Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m. Later that same afternoon we were able to find Susan and Alex Carter. A bit of a poetic ending that not even I could write,” Hatfield explained.

Although Webb is dead, investigators said there is still work to be done in the investigation. Both sets of remains are at the State Medical Examiner’s office. There are also questions about how the initial reports raised by Alex’s family to law enforcement were handled. Those concerns are also being examined by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

Natasha Carter and her mother Susan went missing sometime around August 8, 2000.

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