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Felon Lester caught on bedroom camera holding shotgun

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Footage from a bedroom security camera twice depicted Shawn Thomas Lester holding a shotgun at the home of two men who allegedly played a role in the 2003 Kanawha County sniper-style slayings and served as a basis for federal charges authorities levied against him last year, a prosecutor confirmed Friday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory McVey confirmed that a motion-activated trail camera Sandra Shaffer installed in the bedroom -- apparently because she suspected that her husband, Rodney Preston "Big Rod" Shaffer, was bringing his mistress inside their Sissonville home -- twice captured Lester holding a 12-guage shotgun in September 2007.

In November, a federal grand jury indicted Lester on charges that he had a shotgun on Sept. 3 and Sept. 5, 2007, but the indictment provided few details of the evidence in the case. Earlier this year, Lester pleaded guilty to one count of being a habitual drug user in possession of a firearm.

Sandra Shaffer told Charleston police detectives several months after Lester was arrested in connection with the sniper killings of three people that Lester habitually carried firearms on her large Sissonville property and corroborated other witness statements that he shot a neighbor's dog.

Lester had a criminal history connected to drug dealing, and was prohibited from carrying firearms.

". . . he knew that since he was a convicted felon he wasn't supposed to be around guns or anything," Shaffer told Charleston police Lt. Steve Cooper, according to the interrogation transcript, which is filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

On Monday, Lester pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the death of Jeanie Patton, one of the three people killed by a bullet from a .22 Magnum Caliber Marlin rifle outside Kanawha County convenience stores in 2003. Lester did not admit culpability in the deaths of Okey Meadows Jr. and Gary Carrier Jr., but investigators have said evidence during trial would have shown that he committed those slayings, as well.

Investigators also said that "Big Rod" Shaffer, along with his son, Rodney "Little Rod" Shaffer II, were with Lester at the scene of Jeanie Patton's death, although the Shaffers' role in the crime is unclear.

Sandra Shaffer, during her interrogation last year, also said that, in 2007 -- around the same time she set up the camera in her bedroom -- she asked Lester to provide a lethal dose of cocaine known as a "hot shot" to her husband's mistress.

The woman, Carol Gibbs, gave birth to "Big Rod" Shaffer's son the night of Jeanie Patton's slaying, according to transcripts from several interrogations, and confirmation from one of Gibbs' family members.

"I'd just like to get rid of her, and Shawn said, 'Well, it wouldn't be hard to do. I'd get rid of her,'" Shaffer told the detectives, according to the transcript.

Shaffer said Lester told her he would not have a problem delivering Gibbs the poisonous dose of cocaine in return for $5,000.

Shaffer said she told Lester she would have felt guilty about killing the boy's mother, and that she did not have $5,000. Lester, however, apparently owed the Shaffer family a large amount of money.

"I said, 'Well, just go on down there and kill her and I'll knock it off your bill,'" she told the detectives. Lester declined because he wanted the money up front, Shaffer said.

Gibbs' stepmother, reached by phone Friday, said she had not spoken to her stepdaughter in several years and did not know her contact information, but confirmed that Gibbs had a son with "Big Rod" Shaffer.

A phone number for Sandra Shaffer could not be located.

Reach Zac Taylor at zachary.taylor@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.


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