A Brier Creek man has reportedly confessed to the murder of a Brenton woman, according to Wyoming County Sheriff Randall Aliff.
John New, 20, allegedly broke into the home of 60-year-old Frances Elaine Birchfield on Shannon Mill Creek Road Tuesday evening.
“She came home and the situtation deteriorated from there,” Aliff commented.
New “confessed to the burglary and murder,” the sheriff stated.
Birchfield was shot with a .38, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Police responded to a call at 6:02 p.m.
“We started an investigation and had citizens give us some information,” Aliff remarked.
New allegedly stole Birchfield’s 1999 GMC pickup. Aliff said police did not know the whereabouts of the suspect for a time.
A Gilbert Speedway employee reported seeing the pickup truck to the Mingo County 911 Center, and New was apprehended by Gilbert police around midnight.
Gilbert Assistant Police Chief Glanden described New’s confession.
“He was so calm…he wasn’t nervous at all and he was talking about this terrible crime in the same tone of voice one would use to explain what they had for breakfast. I have never in the 17 years I’ve been a police officer met a defendant so cold and void of emotion as John New. He couldn’t have a conscious or any regret. He talked to us like it was no big deal…he even kept the spent shell casings from the crime scene, I guess as some kind of a sick souvenir to remind him of taking someone else’s life. He truly beats all I’ve ever seen,” said Glanden.
New is charged with first degree murder, day time burglary and grand larceny in Wyoming County.
He will face charges of transfer of stolen property and driving on a suspended license. His bond there was set at $20,000.
New was arraigned on Thursday and his bond has been set at $250,000 bond for the daytime burglary and grand larceny charges. He was denied bond on the murder charge.
Birchfield was a school bus driver in the Hanover area.
Wyoming County Superintendent of Schools Frank “Bucky” Blackwell said she had been a full-time employee for three years and a substitute for two years before that.
“”She was a very nice, pleasant individual,” Blackwell observed. “She did a wonderful job as a bus driver and was liked by everybody—the students she transported as well as the people in the school system who knew her.
“It was just so senseless for something like this to happen,” he stated. “It’s just a shock to everybody. We offer our prayers for her and her family.”
The Wyoming County Sheriff’s Department, West Virginia State Police, Gilbert Police and Mingo County Sheriff’s Department worked on the case.
“We feel New acted alone,” Aliff stated.
He said Brenton residents played a key role. “They were a tremendous help to us,” he commented.
Photo: John New