Five people indicted on murder charges

September 1, 2018

HUNTINGTON — Five people accused of murder, including one involved in a kidnapping case, were among those indicted by a Cabell County grand jury in August.

Brian Michael Bragg, 30, is charged with murder, concealment of a deceased human body, kidnapping, malicious wounding and conspiracy in connection with the Dec. 29, 2017, death of Michael Sutphin and the beating of 30-year-old Tara Gillespie.

Co-defendants Robert Lee Nance, 39, Cheryl D. Nance, 30, and Cynthia Renee Bumgardner, 45, are charged with kidnapping, malicious wounding and conspiracy. Robert Nance is also charged with concealment of a deceased human body and accessory after the fact.

Bragg allegedly stabbed Sutphin to death and had Robert Nance help him hide the body in a van, staging a car accident as a coverup. The other defendants were involved in kidnapping and maliciously wounding Gillispie, a witness to Sutphin’s death.

Gillispie has testified that she recalled Robert Nance pistol-whipping her and Bumgardner putting out lit cigarettes on her face. Gillispie said she woke up wrapped in a plastic shower curtain, bleeding.

In an unrelated case, Argie Lee Jeffers Sr., 73, was indicted on charges of murder and concealment of a deceased human body in connection with the death of Carrie Sowards, whose dismembered body was found Sept. 23, 2017, in the Guyandotte River.

A police investigation led to Jeffers’ home, where forensic evidence implied a “major bloodletting” event had occurred at the residence. Police also interviewed a relative of Jeffers who said he helped Jeffers discard of some old buckets into a carwash dumpster. Upon looking into the buckets, the relative observed body parts

consistent with missing pieces of the found body.

In another unrelated case, Antwon Starkey, 30, was indicted on charges of murder and felon in possession of a firearm in connection with the death of Kafrederick “Bae Bae” McEachin, a 25-year-old wellknown Huntington youth football coach.

Starkey allegedly shot McEachin on Dec. 12, 2017, at Huntington Mart on Hal Greer Boulevard in broad daylight. He allegedly told police he heard McEachin was connected with the shooting of his 14-year-old stepdaughter.

Also indicted in August was Jennifer Lynn Via, 48, who was indicted on a murder charge in connection with the Nov. 4, 2017, death of Thomas Via, her husband.

Jennifer Via allegedly told 911 that her husband had been stabbed in the back with a letter opener at their residence. Police determined the weapon in question was a 14-inch decorative dagger. She allegedly told several stories as to how her husband had been stabbed, including that she had been mimicking a ninja superhero movie and accidentally stabbed her husband as he stood up from a bent-over position.

In an unrelated case, Jessica Dian Gordon, 30, was indicted on a murder charge in connection with the death of Christopher Troy Gordon, her husband.

Officers responded to the family’s home Oct. 22, 2017, to find Christopher Gordon dead of a gunshot wound.

According to police, Jessica Gordon said her husband had held her down on a bed, but gave conflicting information that he had strangled her. Gordon told police she retrieved a gun from a gun safe on the other side of the bed and fired one shot, which struck her husband in his left temple.

An indictment is a formal charge made against a person by a grand jury. It does not establish guilt or innocence.

Follow reporter Megan Osborne on Twitter @megosborneHD.

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