Crime & SafetyVirginia

Persons of interest identified in Franklin County homicide investigation

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – A man found dead Monday in Boones Mill may have been choked to death, according to records filed in Franklin County court.

The body of William O’Dell of West Virginia was found in a camper at a home on Bethlehem Road about two weeks after being reported missing.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has named two persons of interest in this case. Jessica Hiner, 35, and Maurice Jones, 37, are being held on unrelated charges, according to detectives.

Court records, obtained by WDBJ7, reference a conversation between a Franklin County Sheriff’s sergeant and O’Dell’s son, who said he had gotten a call from a man saying a woman named Jessica had tried to sell him a Dodge Durango SUV belonging to O’Dell. The man told O’Dell’s son that Jessica said her boyfriend had choked O’Dell and left him in the camper on the Boones Mill property.

Franklin County detectives tracked Jessica and interviewed her. According to court documents, she told detectives she had watched her boyfriend choke O’Dell, and then she and her boyfriend took O’Dell’s Durango from the home. She said she then sold the Durango to a man in Roanoke.

Detectives have since taken possession of the Durango and are searching it as part of their investigation. They are also searching the camper and two suitcases belonging to the female.

Anyone with information connecting either person of interest with the SUV or the victim is asked to contact Investigator Willoughby at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office at 540-483-6615.

Marco Harmon

I was born and raised in Roanoke, VA. I studied Communications Studies at Roanoke College, and I’ve been part of the news industry ever since. Visiting my favorite downtown Roanoke bars and restaurants with my friends is how I spend most of my free time when I'm not at the desk.

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