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In murder case of Taneytown man, Westminster woman becomes 4th Carroll County resident to be charged

Emily R. Day
Emily R. Day(Carroll County Sheriff's Office)

A Westminster woman is charged with being an accessory before and after the fact involving murder — the fourth Carroll County resident to be charged in connection with the killing of Jonathan Riddle.

Maryland State Police arrested Emily R. Day, 27, of the unit block of Charles Street, in Westminster on April 24, according to a news release from Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in West Virginia. She is being held in Maryland, awaiting a court appearance to determine if she will waive extradition to West Virginia, the release states. She is being held without bond, online court records show.

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Westminster residents David R. Sanford Jr., 26, and Monroe Merrell, 22, and John W. Black III, 22, of Taneytown, face charges of first-degree murder and kidnapping related to the killing of 33-year-old Riddle, who lived in Taneytown.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office found a trail of blood leading to Riddle’s flaming body in the area of Smith and Ward Clipp roads in Rippon, West Virginia, on March 18, according to charging documents. An autopsy found the cause of death was numerous stab wounds and blunt force trauma to the head. The death was ruled a homicide.

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“This investigation is not over and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in coordination with other law enforcement agencies continues to follow leads in this case,” Sheriff Pete Dougherty said in the release.

In West Virginia, the maximum penalty for conviction of first-degree murder is life imprisonment, according to state criminal code. The penalty for being an accessory before and after the fact involving murder is the same, Dougherty said.

Police have charged Day with being an accessory before and after the fact involving Riddle’s murder, the release reads. A criminal complaint and an arrest warrant for Day were issued Thursday, police said. The release did not describe Day’s alleged involvement.

Police found Riddle’s barefoot body in a wooded area about 40 feet from the road, according to charging documents. The investigating officer wrote that, based on the evidence, he believed Riddle was still alive when Riddle arrived at the area.

Charging documents state that police learned Riddle had been at Sanford’s Westminster residence late at night March 17 to meet with Heather Grogg. Her sister, Brandie Hebb, told the Times that Grogg and Riddle were friends.

Day and Sanford have been in a relationship and Grogg babysat their children, Hebb said Friday.

An informant told police they saw Merrell fighting with Riddle in Sanford’s home, before Merrell restrained Riddle and told Sanford to stab Riddle, charging documents read.

The informant said they saw Sanford stab Riddle twice in the stomach, and Riddle tried to escape but was subdued, with his feet and hands bound with a sheet, according to charging documents.

Multiple people were at Sanford’s residence when the assault began, including Black, the informant told police. According to the informant, Black was involved in transporting Riddle, and Black said he stabbed Riddle several times, charging documents state.

While Riddle was still alive, he was taken to West Virginia, then was stabbed numerous times and set on fire, the informant told police.

Maryland State Police arrested Sanford, 26, on April 9 in Westminster, and Black, 22, was arrested April 15 in Taneytown, according to the release. Both waived extradition and are being held by the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority. Both are awaiting further court hearings and are being held without bond. Black faces an additional charge of conspiring to commit first-degree murder.

The U.S. Marshal Service Task Force arrested Merrell in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on April 15, the release states. He is being held without bond and has appeared before court officials in Virginia, where he is currently incarcerated in the Virginia Beach Correctional Center. His next court appearance is May 18. West Virginia is likely to seek a governor’s extradition warrant, according to the release.

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The extradition process can be used to return those charged with a crime to the state that has jurisdiction of the crime, according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s website.

Arrest warrants for Sanford and Merrell were issued April 9, and Black’s was issued April 14, the release states.

Day has a bail review hearing scheduled in Carroll County District Court for April 27. There was no attorney listed for her in online court records Friday afternoon.

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