GALLIPOLIS — Charges were filed Thursday in Gallipolis Municipal Court against a Gallia man connected to an investigation involving the discovery of human remains in West Virginia.
According to Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins, Richard Hurt, 47, of Gallipolis, has had charges filed against him for the alleged crimes of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony charge, and abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony charge.
According to the complaint, the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and Ohio Bureau Criminal Identification and Investigation assisted authorities in Mason County, W.Va., with an investigation following the discovery of a dismembered human body on July 30. During the investigation, Hurt reportedly told investigators that he and a recently reported missing Gallia woman, Jessica Berry, 32, of Gallipolis, were at a residence on White Road in Gallia County on or about July 19. Berry supposedly overdosed on narcotics at the location. Hurt also supposedly said he used a saw to dismember Berry’s remains and placed them in trash bags before transporting those remains in his vehicle for roughly one and a half days before taking them to Mason County, where he buried the remains on private property.
Hurt reportedly said he disposed of Berry’s clothing and the saw in the trash that was collected by a local trash service. The complaints say Hurt said he knew the items would end up at the local landfill. The Daily Tribune reported Berry’s disappearance last week. Complaints further state Hurt had supposedly provided a false statement to Gallia County deputies in regards to Berry’s initial disappearance.
A preliminary hearing was set in Mason County Magistrate Court in West Virginia for Aug. 8 at 9:30 a.m. A hearing has yet to be determined in Ohio court proceedings.
Law enforcement has yet to confirm whether the remains discovered in West Virginia truly belong to Jessica Berry. According to Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning, a report dated July 24 indicated Berry’s family had not seen Berry for days and were growing concerned. Deputies spoke with the woman’s mother, Tammy Taylor, who stated her daughter had gotten into a red or maroon car with some friends in the evening at approximately 7:30 p.m. July 18.
West Virginia State Police are taking the lead in the investigation so far with the discovery of the human remains. WVSP Crime Lab experts, Ohio BCI, Gallia Sheriff’s Office and the Mason County Sheriff’s Department are still investigating.
“The Gallia County Prosecutor’s Office has filed charges on Richard Hurt for abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence based on the evidence presented to this office at the present time,” said Adkins. “We are awaiting additional crime scene and scientific evidence to determine if further criminal charges are warranted.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.