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Family shocked victim’s body missed on Lewis County crime scene


CHARLESTON — A Lewis County man, who had close ties to the victims of a fire from earlier this week, said it’s hard to understand why it took so long to find a fifth victim at the crime scene.

Michael Lockard of Walkersville spoke to MetroNews about the discovery of the fifth victim near the burned-out home in the community of Ireland.

The man, who investigators said had been shot, was found about 50 feet from a chicken coop, which was near the burned-out home. His body wasn’t discovered for nearly 24 hours, despite first responders being all around the scene.

“There’s only two scenarios, either he was missed in all of the commotion or somebody dumped him in that field later,” said Lockard.

The fifth victim was the biological father of Lockard’s stepson. The two of them had spent much of the day travelling to various family properties around central West Virginia looking for him the day of the fire.

Back at the scene, the first responders were also attempting to locate the man who was known to be part of the household, but was not in what remained of the burned-out house. Even investigators were shocked they never noticed the body so close to their crime scene.

Lockard said he and his stepson returned to the scene almost 24 hours after the fire and spoke to a trooper and a Lewis County deputy who were posted there. They theorized with the officers the possibility the missing man might be in one of the various outbuildings near the scene.

“We looked in an old cellar house with the deputies and then we went down toward the chicken building. He couldn’t have been more than 50 feet from that chicken building. I and my stepson and the two officers found him at the same time lying in that field,” said Lockard.

Lockard and the deputy led his stepson away from the grim discovery of his dad’s body. The trooper later joined them back on the road with questions and with an apology his dad had not been found earlier. It was difficult for Lockard since the week had already been extremely emotional.

“It was a huge disservice and I’m frustrated,” he said.

First responders echoed that frustration, but chalked it up to a complete focus on the fire scene during the investigation and recovery of the four bodies inside.

Lockard and his family were well-acquainted with the victims. His wife was formerly married to the the fifth victim and knew the rest of the family well.

“Those people were like family to us and my wife hung out with those people since she was 4 or 5 years old. Two of my stepsons belong to that family so it’s been excruciating to everybody,” he added.

Lockard also said the man identified as a suspect in the case, Luke Wilson, 45, of Walkersville, was the father of an infant who was one of the fire victims.

Wilson killed himself a few hours after the fire at a location in eastern Kanawha County.

Although all of the victims were acquainted, Lockard was unaware of any past problems or animosity that would have lead to the death of six people.

“I couldn’t speak to animosity, we didn’t speak to those people on a regular basis anymore. I just know the one victim had a baby recently and the rest of the family informed us the baby belonged to him,” he said.

The investigation into the fire continues. Investigators hope the autopsy would yield some clues to a motive, but they admitted with all of the people involved dead, they may never be able to know for sure what led to the killings and the deadly fire.