Court documents reveal copper theft was only part of the plan when group entered idled mine

BECKLEY — Raleigh County authorities continue their search for Eddie Williams, 43, of Artie.

Williams was one of the four individuals who entered the old Rock House-Powellton Mine near Clear Creek two weeks ago, causing a nationally watched rescue to unfold.

Warrants were issued for Williams’ arrest on Thursday. The charges include illegally entering the mine, providing false information to police and felony conspiracy. Eddie Williams was the one who managed to find his own way out of the mine two days afterward.

A criminal complaint that was filed along with the charge told more of the story of what unfolded ahead of the dramatic rescue. The court documents indicate Williams, Erica Treadway, 31, of Pax, Kayla Williams, 25, of Artie who is Eddie’s cousin, and her boyfriend Cody Beverly, 21, of Dorothy, entered the mine with the intention of stealing copper. The idea was to “mine wire,” which is the term used in describing the plan to investigators.

Raleigh County Detective Cory Suman was alerted Dec. 9, the four may be trapped in the mine. He went to the entrance and found Beverly’s ATV. He also noticed a burned ring with some copper, indicating a fire to melt the plastic insulation off copper wire, which is a common practice when the material is stolen for resale.

The search attempt was already in motion when Eddie Williams emerged from the mine Dec. 10. However, he did not immediately go to authorities for help. He caught a ride with his girlfriend to Whitesville. Police contacted Eddie at the home and brought him to the local Alpha Natural Resources office, where he was questioned about whether the other three were still in side.

In his initial statement to police Eddie claimed the other three went into the mine without him and he had gone in looking for them when they did not emerge after a day. Police said after further questioning, he changed his story and admitted they were looking for copper wire.

In subsequent interviews with deputies Eddie indicated the four paired off once they were inside and went to different areas of the mine to have sex. The other three members of the group backed up the claim after their rescue.

Beverly later told police the girls were panicking and Williams left within hours of entering the mine. A team from the state office of Miner’s Health Safety and Training, Contura Energy, and the West Virginia National Guard rescued them four days after they went into the mine.

Williams remained at large Friday morning. So far no charges have been lodged against Treadway, Beverly or Kayla Williams. Raleigh County Prosecutor Kristen Keller said the investigation continues.

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