Couple charged in child neglect case

ELKINS — A Randolph County couple has been charged after it is alleged they tried to conceal a relationship between a juvenile in their care and a 35-year-old woman.

Gregory Lynn Coontz, 47, and Tracie Sue Coontz, 45, both of Elkins, are each charged with one felony count of child neglect creating risk of injury. They are each incarcerated at Tygart Valley Regional Jail on $75,000 cash, property or surety bonds, set by Randolph County Magistrate Rob Elbon.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Randolph County Magistrate Court, at approximately 4 p.m. Feb. 15, Senior Deputy D.L. VanMeter, Deputy E.B. Carr and Deputy S.D. Kyle, all of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, responded to a Cole Avenue residence in Elkins for a home confinement check.

The visit was prompted by the fact that a 13-year-old juvenile had failed a drug test earlier in the day.

Deputies spoke to the caretakers of the juvenile — the Coontzs — and began to search the residence, which revealed “several” drug paraphernalia items.

Upstairs, Kyle found a “small compartment” in one of the children’s bedrooms that was locked from the outside.

After forcing the area open, a woman, identified as Tammy Lynn Sharp, 35, of Elkins, was found inside as well as additional “drug items,” the complaint states. Inside her jacket, officers found a case containing a methamphetamine pipe with residue as well as a corner bag of crystal substance believed to be methamphetamine.

The Coontzs told police they didn’t know Sharp was in the residence, but it is noted in the report that the lock where Sharp was found was set from the outside, so the Coontzs “attempted to conceal her from police.”

Deputies located Sharp’s name on the wall several times in the juvenile’s bedroom. On the wall it read “(juvenile) loves Tammy,” according to the complaint.

Inside the juvenile’s room, officers located Sharp’s personal belongings as well as “a significant amount of condoms.”

The juvenile told VanMeter that Sharp had “forced” herself onto him three or four weeks prior.

Deputy Z.T. Pingley, also of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, questioned the Coontzs as to when he met Sharp, and they advised him he first met her a month prior to them meeting her.

They added Sharp began coming to the home in August and lived with them for a short period around the time of the Mountain State Forest Festival.

The Coontzs said there were times the two would be left home alone, and they did not find it odd that the two would shut the door to the bedroom at times, the complaints states.

An emergency interview of the alleged victim was conducted at the Randolph-Tucker Child Advocacy Center at approximately 7 p.m. the same evening. An interview with his younger brother will be scheduled for a future date, the complaint states.

During the interview the juvenile described an attempted “rape” that occurred three to four weeks prior in his bedroom. He added the Coontzs were downstairs at the time and described the lack of “supervision” in the home.

The juvenile also said he had been offered methamphetamine in his own bedroom and noted it is “frequently” smoked there. He added marijuana and methamphetamine are also used in his brother’s bedroom and the Coontzs’ bedroom.

The alleged victim said another brother had strangled him numerous times and little to no “parenting” has been done to stop the problems. He admitted to sleeping downstairs to stay away from others in the household, according to the complaint.

Additionally, he recalled a time when his older brother allegedly brought a gun from someone’s house and pointed it at his head for fun.

Pingley notes in the report that he believes the alleged victim’s “trouble at home” is a contributing factor to him being on home confinement.

Sharp was arrested on Feb. 15 and charged with one felony count of first-degree sexual abuse and one misdemeanor count of possession of controlled substance — methamphetamine. She remains incarcerated at Tygart Valley Regional Jail on a $25,000 cash-only bond, set by Randolph County Chief Magistrate George M. “Mike” Riggleman.