West Virginia man arrested on murder, kidnapping and assault charges

West Virginia

A Marion County man is facing a murder charge after police said he kidnapped a girl, held her captive for more than a year, impregnated her and kicked her in the abdomen, which caused her to have a miscarriage.

On March 28, 2019, detectives with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department attended a Child Advocacy Center interview of a girl who had been missing as a runaway since March 4, 2018.  Deputies said the girl was located on March 27, 2019.  The girl told deputies that she has been with Brian Merchant-Jones, 20, of Fairmont, the entire time during this period.

Deputies said the girl stated that she had become pregnant by Merchant-Jones during the early months of her abduction.  The girl also said that in late fall 2018, Merchant-Jones kicked her in the abdomen while she was pregnant, according to police.  The girl went on to say that hours later, she miscarried the fetus and delivered it at a residence in Fairmont.

Deputies said the girl stated that she then traveled to a residence in Rivesville and buried the stillborn fetus.  Deputies said a search was conducted at the property and the remains of the fetus were located.  Merchant-Jones has been charged with the murder of the fetus, according to court documents.

The girl stated that during the time she was kidnapped, Merchant-Jones would physically assault her on a nearly-daily basis and would limit her ability to contact the outside world, deputies said.  Deputies said the girl stated that if she held any phone conversations, they would have to be on speaker phone with Merchant-Jones listening.

The girl also stated that during the time of her abduction, she was moved to several different residences in Marion County, including Fairmont, Barrackville and Mannington.  Deputies said the girl disclosed that during a period of time where Merchant-Jones was incarcerated, he had associates check on her to make sure she did not leave.  The girl stated that she believed she would suffer severe physical harm if she attempted to leave, according to court documents.

The girl specifically mentioned one incident that occurred in February 2019 in Barrackville, in which Merchant-Jones beat her until she urinated, choked her to the point of loss of consciousness and hit her in the back of the head with a 40-ounce beer bottle, according to court documents.

Merchant-Jones has been charged with first degree murder, kidnapping and malicious assault, according to court documents.  He is currently being held at North Central Regional Jail.

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