- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

HOT SPRINGS, VA. (AP) - Authorities searched the mountains of western Virginia on Monday for a man suspected of fatally shooting two of his supervisors at a posh resort while guests dined nearby.

A Virginia State Police helicopter scanned a steep, wooded area across from The Homestead where suspect Beacher Ferrel Hackney fled after the shootings Saturday night, said Bath County Sheriff Larry Norfleet. The helicopter also swept over the area Saturday night.

“We’re going back and retracing our steps,” Norfleet said.

He said searchers could see fairly well because there is no foliage on the trees, but they did not spot Hackney.

Ten schools in Bath County and adjacent Alleghany County were closed as a precaution while the search was on. A warrant for Hackney’s arrest on murder charges has been issued, said County Sheriff’s Capt. Richard Armstrong.

Police say the 59-year-old is suspected of shooting Ronnie Stinnett and Dwight Kerr, who worked with him washing dishes, picking up trash and cleaning.

The shooting happened in the resort’s kitchen about 8 p.m., when guests were eating dinner. A hotel spokeswoman said she didn’t think guests heard the shots because a band was playing.

Authorities said they don’t have a motive for the slayings, but they described Hackney as a loner who didn’t associate with his co-workers. His family was scattered, Norfleet said.

Armstrong said a search of Hackney’s home in Covington yielded no clues and there was no indication he had been there since the shootings.

“It was very clean,” he said.

The Homestead is a 483-room resort about 80 miles north of Roanoke that traces its roots to 1766, when a wooden lodge was built at the site near hot mineral springs, and the main hotel building was completed in 1901. Rates start at $225 a night.

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