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by James Fisher
The murder investigation of a 74-year-old Nutter Fort resident whose body was found in February in Clarksburg is still active, and evidence is still being gathered, according to police.
The badly decomposed body of Edwin "Hugh" Mearns was found Feb. 7 at the old Notre Dame practice field on Ohio Avenue near Appalachian Tire. Mearns' body had been at the location for "a period of time," said Nutter Fort Police Chief Ron Godwin.
Mearns had been missing since June 23, 1997. He died as a result of a gun shot wound, according to an autopsy. Police have never released information about where the bullet entered Mearns' body.
"The case is still active and we are still doing follow-ups," Godwin said. "We've taken stuff to the lab and we are still waiting for results."
The investigation is a joint effort between the Nutter Fort Police Department and the West Virginia State Police. When the investigation began in February, Sr. Trooper C. Casto was assigned to the Bridgeport Detachment of the state police. Sgt. Gregg Lemasters said Casto has since been reassigned to the Bureau of Criminal Investigations and took the case with him.
The West Virginia State Police Laboratory in Charleston has been examining the evidence for about seven months. Godwin said he sent a large amount of evidence for testing and some items required more than one test.
Godwin said police have a suspect in the murder.
"We're trying to go over the information we have gathered," he said. "We want to make sure we didn't miss anything. We're kind of playing catch-up right now, because we took in a lot of information at first, and we want to make sure we haven't overlooked anything."
Godwin was unsure if the investigation will be concluded by the end of the year.
"It just depends on some tests," he said. "We may come up with some better evidence or we may not get anything."
Investigators are waiting for laboratory results to "see where to go next," he said.
"It's still an active investigation. We haven't quit," he said. "I'd have liked to have solved it and had it done six months ago, but that's not the case."
Casto was unable to be reached for comment.