LEON, WV (WOWK) – More details have been released after a man was arrested in connection to a homicide last week in Mason County.
According to authorities in Mason County, Anthony Ray Yester, 47, of Letart, faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of 41-year-old Paul Wesley Matheny, of Leon, whose body was found in the back of a pick-up truck in a secluded area of Gill Ridge Road Thursday, Oct. 28.
“The tree company got there roughly around nine o clock that morning, that’s when they first seen the vehicle. They just assumed it was a hunter, cause it is a wooded area. When they came back from their duties, they realized the truck was sitting there and it was like, ‘eh, we probably need to go check it out.’ So that’s when they went over and discovered the body,” says Frank Holcomb, chief administrator with the Mason County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies say when a crew of tree services workers first saw the pickup truck parked under a power tower when they arrived at the scene early that morning. They told deputies that at the time, they assumed the truck belonged to a hunter in the woods. The truck was still there as the crew was ending their workday and they noticed “a burn trail” beside the vehicle. One of the men went over to the truck where he saw the body in the truck bed and called 911.
Through the investigation, deputies and West Virginia State Police troopers learned the victim had most likely not been killed at the scene but had been taken there to be “disposed” of. Deputies say there was a black trash bag over most of the victim’s head and blood pooling in the truck bed. Authorities also found several “fingerprints made from blood and multiple smear marks made from blood” on the pickup’s tailgate.
“We had some bloody fingerprints on the tailgate. The entire truck was taken to the crime lab in Charleston to be processed,” Holcomb says.
The victim’s body was taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy and identification. during the autopsy, investigators found an apparent gunshot wound on the left side of his skull. Authorities say through a DNA sample, fingerprints and photos of the victim’s tattoo, the WVSP Crime Lab positively identified him as Matheny.
According to the criminal complaint, deputies found the Ohio license plate on the truck was registered to the victim.
The complaint states a witness told deputies Yester was the suspect in the case and gave a statement saying they and Yester had heard an argument in the front of Yester’s home and found Yester’s girlfriend yelling at the man to leave. The witness told deputies the man backed out of the doorway, and then Yester allegedly shot a gun out of the home toward the porch and continued “shooting around the man’s feet around four to eight times, according to the complaint. Deputies say the witness told them the man fell backward during the last shot. The witness told deputies Yester allegedly said the man “was fine” and then the witness left.
“They stated that they did witness the shooting, that the shooting occurred at a different place than where the body was found,” Holcomb says.
According to the complaint, deputies also learned of another witness who agreed to give a statement. The second witness said they and another person had arrived at the home and as the two of them arrived they saw a man backing out of the home as a woman yelled at him. The witness said say they heard “a series of gunshots, possibly three to four” coming from a man standing beside her. According to the witness, when the victim fell backward, he “made contact” with their vehicle and the woman then walked across the road into the woods. The complaint states the person with the witness ran after the woman, but returned and then left with the witness.
Neighbors in the area say the news of this violent crime has been rippling through the community.
“Well, it’s upsetting for one thing because we don’t know what might happen to us. There’s just so much bad going on anymore, you just, you don’t know what to think,” says Nellie VanMeter of Mason County.