Several law enforcement agencies provide vital information and statistics on the number of murders in West Virginia by year. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation develops and publishes a complete uniform crime report each year that gives extensive information on the various types of crime, crime rates, and locations in most cities and counties across the country. Another excellent example is Project: Cold Case, which not only maintains a public database of almost 25,000 unresolved cases, but also offers statistics and other information on the number of unsolved homicides throughout the United States as well as the homicide clearance rate in each state. According to the Cold case Homicide Statistics provided by The Murder Accountability Project in collaboration with Project: Cold Case, there were 4,281 murders in West Virginia between 1980 and 2019. Furthermore, almost 958 of those homicides in West Virginia remain unsolved today, despite the fact that around 3,863 murders from the original total were solved during that time span.
Some of the more well known unsolved murders in northern West Virginia, include the 1977 murder of Roberta Elam, the 1990 murder of Fame Cooper, the 1995 murder of Barbara Ann Barnes, the 2004 death of an unnamed newborn “”Baby Christian,”” and the 1950 murder of “”Redhead”” Jane Doe. The 1986 murder of Theresa Ann Woods, the 1963 murder of Irene Wilson, the 1982 murder of LaRoy Earl Gorman, and the 2008 murder of Judith Lynn Petty are among the unsolved central West Virginia murders, in addition to the 1945 kidnapping and mysterious disappearance of the Sodder Children.
In addition, unsolved murders in Charleston, West Virginia include the 1990 murder of Lynn Priestly, the 1979 murder of John “”Jay”” Farley, and the 2012 murder of Robert “”Bob”” Snow, as well as the 1979 disappearance of Mazie Mae Sigmon-Palmer, whose disappearance is linked to Jay Farley’s murder. Finally, one of the unsolved murders in Kanawha County, West Virginia include the 2004 murder of Cleo Burdette, in addition to Melanie Metheny’s 2006 disappearance, and Samuel “”Dickie”” Riser’s 2010 disappearance.