- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 24, 2003

CAMPBELLS CREEK, W.Va. (AP) — The first was chatting on a pay phone. Another was filling the gas tank of her candy-apple-red Pontiac Trans Am. The third was buying milk.

They had different backgrounds, different hopes for the future. But all were killed in the same way, each shot once with the same .22-caliber gun while standing outside convenience stores in the Charleston area.

Sheriff David Tucker has suggested drugs as a motive in the killings of Jeanie Patton, 31, and Okey Meadows Jr., 26. Both lived in Campbells Creek, an area residents have told investigators is rife with drugs.

But family members and friends of the victims defend them against the insinuation. Drugs haven’t been mentioned in connection with the other victim, Gary Carrier Jr., 44, and Charleston Police Chief Jerry Pauley has said police had found no drug connections to him.

“I never did see my daughter drunk, doped up or anything, but we’re just waiting that part out,” said Joyce Patton, Jeanie Patton’s mother. “But I don’t see how she could be [on drugs] when she worked all the time.”

Mr. Meadows was killed about 90 minutes after Miss Patton. He was paying for milk at the outside window of a Go-Mart on U.S. Route 60 when he was shot.

“Okey was definitely not into drugs,” said longtime friend Brett Page. Family members said Mr. Meadows had planned to study either criminal justice or military science at West Virginia State College.

A nephew of Mr. Carrier, the first of the three victims, said his uncle “didn’t have nobody after him.”

“He was the kind of guy who, if he owed you, he paid you,” Richie Thaxton said of Mr. Carrier, who lived in South Charleston. “Somebody was trigger-happy because I don’t think [Mr. Carrier] owed anybody. Everybody got along with him.”

The lack of a readily apparent link has fueled public fears that the victims might have been picked at random, like the victims of the sniper shootings last fall in Virginia, Maryland and the District. Two men were arrested in connection with the 13 sniper attacks.

Shortly after the second and third shootings in West Virginia, the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives joined West Virginia and local authorities in the investigation. Police said they have received more than 600 tips.

Authorities yesterday were still searching for at least two men — a heavyset, goateed man believed to have been in a dark-colored Ford F-150 pickup, both described by witnesses, and a man with “skinny white legs” who is considered a possible witness.

Mr. Carrier was shot the night of Aug. 10 outside a Go-Mart in downtown Charleston. Mr. Thaxton said his uncle was answering a page from his ex-wife when he was killed.

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