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Westminster man charged in West Virginia with murder, is transported there

Jeffrey C. Smith Jr.
Jeffrey C. Smith Jr.(Carroll County Sheriff's Office)

A Westminster man stands accused of shooting a Westminster woman to death in West Virginia.

Jeffrey C. Smith Jr., 22, of the 100 block of Larkhill Court, was arrested in Carroll County on Monday on charges of being a fugitive from justice out of Berkeley County, West Virginia, where he faces charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, according to court documents and police.

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Westminster resident Heather Grogg, 33, and Taneytown resident Danielle Tyler, 18, had information about the killing of Taneytown resident Jonathan Riddle, charging documents state. Grogg was shot twice and killed by a man named Jeff Smith on April 6 in Falling Waters, West Virginia, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in Berkeley County against April Lynn Braner, 37, who is also charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

In West Virginia, a conviction for first-degree murder carries a sentence of life in prison.

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Pete Dougherty, Jefferson County sheriff, confirmed Wednesday that the Jeff Smith named in charging documents referred to Jeffrey C. Smith Jr.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office picked up Smith from the Carroll County Detention Center on Wednesday morning, according to Dougherty and Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees.

The warrant for Smith was approved by the Berkeley County prosecutor and was issued by the Berkeley County magistrate, Dougherty said. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office brought him to Berkeley County, according to Dougherty. Smith was booked at North Central Regional Jail, with no bond, on May 20 at 6 p.m., according to online jail records.

An attorney for Smith could not be reached Wednesday.

Westminster resident David Sanford Jr., who is also charged in the death of Riddle, used a plastic bag to suffocate Tyler until she died, according to the criminal complaint against Braner.

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.

After Riddle died, Sanford, along with Westminster residents Monroe Merrell and Emily Day — who also have been charged in Riddle’s murder — drove Grogg and Tyler to Braner’s home in Falling Waters on April 6, telling the two women they would be safe there from the ongoing criminal investigation into Riddle’s murder, according to the criminal complaint.

Once there, Sanford used a plastic bag Braner gave him to suffocate Tyler to death in a trailer across the street from Braner’s home, the criminal complaint reads. The complaint alleges Braner checked Tyler and found her alive, then Sanford used the bag again until she was dead.

Meanwhile, Merrell lured Grogg away from the trailer and distracted her before Smith shot her, according to the criminal complaint.

Berkeley County’s sheriff did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. It remains unclear whether any new charges were filed against Sanford, Merrell or Day. No new cases appeared to be filed against them in the West Virginia online jail system as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

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