Two arrested in missing persons case

Authorities in two counties believe they have finally closed the book on a cold case that had spanned nearly 14 years, arresting two men, including the son and grandson of two missing women.

Joseph Edward Metz, 39, of Horner, was taken into custody late Wednesday night, charged with two counts each of murder, robbery and kidnapping. He is charged with causing the deaths of 69-year-old Maxine Stalnaker and 45-year-old Mary Geneva Friend, both of whom disappeared from Lewis County in 1999. Friend’s car was found in Harrison County shortly after the women’s disappearance was reported.

Metz, who is the son of Friend and the grandson of Stalnaker, is being held in the Central Regional Jail in lieu of a $250,000 bond.

David Martin Hughes, 58, of Archbold, Ohio, was arrested Thursday by authorities in Fulton County, Ohio. He is being held in the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, where he is awaiting extradition proceedings.

He is facing two counts each of murder, kidnapping and robbery.

Police arrested Charles Steven “Steve” Freeman, 51, of Archbold, Ohio, late Thursday afternoon. He is also being held in the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, where he is awaiting extradition proceedings. He is charged with two counts each of murder, robbery and kidnapping.

Gissy said he could not comment on the specifics of the case, saying the matter is still an ongoing investigation. He said about four months ago, a member of the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department’s Criminal Investigation Unit approached Gissy with information regarding the disappearance. He said those suspected to be involved with the incident were re-interviewed, which led to the arrest warrants being issued this week.

“We felt we had probable cause and felt it necessary to effect the arrests,” he said.

According to the police report contained within the criminal complaint filed in Lewis County Magistrate Court, Hughes, while the owner of the Wilderness Plantation, allegedly conspired with Metz and Freeman to have Friend and Stalnaker kidnapped, robbed and killed because Friend possessed a writing tablet with information about alleged illegal criminal transactions regarding Hughes’ business affairs. Hughes was concerned the information could be turned over to law enforcement officers, the complaint stated.

Metz and Freeman allegedly removed the two women from their residence on Fox Run Road and took them to a location along Jesse Run Road, where they took a purse and allegedly killed the two women, according to the complaint.

Gissy said Thursday he could not comment regarding if the women’s bodies have been located. The purse was found by a fisherman in Lewis County in 2002. The purse, however, did not contain the writing tablet.

The complaint stated that Hughes admitted to asking Metz and Freeman to kill the two women and retrieve the tablet during an interview with police officers this month.

The complaint stated that Metz and Freeman called Hughes after allegedly killing the two women and disposing of the bodies, then gave Hughes the writing tablet.

Gissy praised the cooperation between the Lewis County and Harrison County departments, as well as with the West Virginia State Police, for helping to close this cold case.

“The Lewis County prosecutor’s office was (also) very insightful with providing legal advice throughout the course of the investigation,” Gissy said.

Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Smith said no preliminary hearings have been scheduled for Metz, nor has a bond hearing. Metz was arraigned early Thursday morning in Magistrate Court. Bond for a murder case, however, can only be set by a circuit court judge.