Madison Miller, who attends Clay County High School, remembers Murphy as adventurous and rebellious.
Stacy Murphy said her son is outgoing and a young man who is "very caring and has a soft heart."
She expects her son to face charges. She said he had told her there was alcohol involved in the incident.
Police found marijuana but no alcohol at the scene, West Virginia State Police Trooper Greg Stalnaker said. Police are awaiting a toxicology report to determine if any of the truck's occupants were intoxicated at the time.
Local residents said teenagers often succumb to drugs and alcohol to break the monotony of daily life in Clay County.
"There's nothing here for them," Faye Asbury said as she sat on the steps of the old Clay County Courthouse Wednesday morning. "We have nothing here."
Many local students attended camp or got a summer job during the sultry summer months, Miller said, but Murphy stayed behind.
Early Wednesday, he and friends had gone to have a little fun and visit the "haunted chimneys" around the county's Booger Hole.
According to Appalachian folk tales, the chimneys house ghosts from burnt-out homes. Teenagers have visited the chimneys for years to hunt ghosts and listen for their "screams," Miller said.
"It's a real tragedy," Asbury said. "Kara was a very beautiful little girl."
Residents remember Conley as warm and cheerful.
"She was really bubbly and outgoing," Miller said. "She was always singing popular songs and country. She had one of those cute, girly voices."
Miller said she hopes Conley's death will be a wakeup call for other classmates.
Reach Laura Reston at laura.res...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5112.