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Weston man charged with killing mother, grandmother in 1999

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Weston man was charged Thursday in the disappearance of his mother and grandmother, who have been missing since 1999.

Joseph Metz, 39, was charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery, according to the Lewis County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities also have issued a warrant for a Steve Freeman, who faces the same charges. Officials said they believe Freeman might be in northwest Ohio.

"We believe, at this point in time, he is to be considered dangerous," Lewis County Sheriff Adam M. Gissy said of Freeman at a news conference in Weston.

Freeman's connection to Metz isn't clear. Gissy refused to provide details about the case, citing an ongoing investigation.

During his arraignment early Thursday in Lewis County Magistrate Court, Metz denied any involvement.

"What can I say? I'm accused of something I didn't do.  . . .  Never even knew nothing about it," Metz told WDTV after his court appearance.

Metz is being held without bail in the Central Regional Jail at Flatwoods.

Marcus Maxine Stalnaker, 69, and her daughter, Mary Friend, 46, disappeared Dec. 1, 1999, after leaving their Jane Lew home on a Christmas shopping trip. Their silver-gray station wagon was found five days later near the Harrison County community of Gore, in a muddy lot behind a concrete wall. There was no obvious evidence of foul play in the vehicle, but authorities declared it a crime scene anyway and called in the FBI for help.

The women lived with Friend's husband, Kevin, who was out of town at the time they vanished. Police said there were no signs of violence or intruders at the couple's home.

In 2002, a purse belonging to one of the women was found at Stonewall Jackson Lake. At the time, authorities believed their bodies would be found weighted down at the bottom of the lake, but an extensive two-day search of the lake turned up nothing.

During Thursday's news conference, Gissy refused to say if Metz had been a suspect in the past but noted that authorities had interviewed Metz early on in the investigation.

Gissy said investigators spent the past four-plus months taking a second look at the case and interviewing witnesses again. Gissy didn't say what new evidence led to Metz's arrest.


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