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Grand jury hands down indictments

Teen indicted for murder in Broadway fire;

Harrison County candidate also among 56 named in indictments

(See list of Grand Jury's indictments)

by Troy Graham


A 14-year-old Meadowbrook boy accused of setting two fires on Broadway Avenue, one of which killed a 79-year-old man, was among 56 people indicted by the Harrison County Grand Jury this week.

Tom Rowh, a Democratic candidate for magistrate in the last primary election, was also indicted on two misdemeanor counts. One count alleges that Rowh used illegal corporate contributions from his own company to pay for television ads.

In addition, prosecutors presented 13 drug cases to the grand jury. All 13 defendants were indicted. Indictments of two of the suspects were sealed because they are still at large, said Prosecuting Attorney Ed Matko.

Timothy Jeffress, the 14-year-old accused of setting the Broadway fires, was indicted on one count of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree arson, two counts of burglary and one count of petit larceny.

One of the fires that Jeffress allegedly set killed 79-year-old Kenneth Carder.

Jeffress will be tried as an adult.

"I'll be glad to get that case moving," Matko said. "I think it's a pretty good case. It's my understanding that he gave a statement."

Jeffress allegedly broke into a trailer and an apartment in July. Jeffress told police in his interview that he set the fires to conceal evidence of the burglaries.

Carder lived upstairs from the apartment where Jeffress allegedly set the second fire. Carder died of smoke inhalation.

Jeffress told Clarksburg police officers that he was drinking beer, taking Xanax pills and smoking marijuana on the night of the fires. He also said he spent the $32 he stole from the trailer on drugs. When asked why he went to the trailer and set the first fire, Jeffress responded, "Cause I was messed up and I needed something to do."

A police report showed that Jeffress admitted the crimes to two friends and his aunt and mother. In the police interview, Jeffress said he did not know that Carder was upstairs. Jeffress said if he had know the man was home, he wouldn't have set the fire. Jeffress said he used to take food to the man at Christmas time.

Rowh, who ran for magistrate in May, was indicted on one count of filing a grossly incomplete or inaccurate statement and use of forbidden corporate contributions in his campaign.

The case was investigated by the Secretary of State's office after a former employee of Rowh's alerted the office that he had used money from his business to pay for political advertisements.

A report filed by an investigator showed that Rowh had $2,771 worth of credit for commercials for his business, Fuel City, at a local television station. He asked that he use some of that credit for his political ads. The television ads stated that they were paid for by Fuel City, which is illegal.

Matko said Rowh's alleged crimes were required to go before the grand jury even though they are misdemeanors. The punishment is up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.

The prosecutor's office also presented a high number of drug cases to the grand jury.

"I think it's just a result of the (drug) task force being out there in force and doing their jobs," Matko said.