South Boston News & Record
and Mecklenburg Sun
11/20/14 - 7:29 am
11/19/14 - 12:04 pm
Robert F. "Bob" Cage, a Halifax native, was known for his achievements in an array of fields that he pursued with customary passion.
11/19/14 - 7:56 am
The superintendent lost the support of a longtime backer, board chairman Robert Puryear
11/20/14 - 7:26 am
There might have been some cynics wondering about the direction of the Halifax County High School varsity boys’ basketball team before last winter.
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Family of Wendy Beadles Francis hails arrest, pleads for more tips
SoVaNow.com / July 16, 2014Expressing relief and gratitude that a suspect has been charged with the murder of Wendy Dawn Beadles Francis, the parents of the long-missing Nathalie 35-year-old yesterday appealed for information that could lead to one final break in the case — where her body might be found.
“I still believe someone knows where she’s at and they need to come forward,” said Gayle Snead, mother of Francis, who is presumed dead after going missing in late July 2012.
On Monday, a Campbell County grand jury indicted Jeffrey Morgan Wright, 52, of Brookneal, for second degree murder in Francis’ death. Authorities say Wright and Beadles had a brief relationship around the time she was last seen by her family. Wright also has been charged with unlawful disposal of a body.
Ms. Snead was joined by Wendy Francis’ father, Kenneth Beadles, and family members Glenn and Earl Beadles at a press conference yesterday to plead for the public’s help in finding out more about what happened to Francis, who left the Nathalie home that she shared with her father in June 2012. Much of what happened to Frances after that time remains a mystery to the family, according to her parents.
Kenneth Beadles said he has been tormented by his daughter’s fate ever since he reported her disappearance to authorities in late July 2012. Wendy Beadles Francis lived at home with her father until June 8 of that year, according to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office.
“I can’t sleep, I can’t eat. It’s been rough the last two years. It’s all I’ve been able to think about,” said Beadles, who said he has lost 20 pounds worrying about his daughter.
Of Wright, the suspected killer, Beadles said: “I don’t want to see him die, I just want to see him in the pen and have to think about it every day. I think about it every day. I want him to think about it every day, what he did.”
Family members said they didn’t know much about Wright at the time he was involved with Wendy Francis, although they were acquainted with other members of Wright’s family living in the Brookneal area. Both parents say they believe that Francis had broken off whatever relationship she may have had with Wright, which Snead said wasn’t very close.
“I don’t think dating [is] the word. I think ‘acquaintance’ would be more like it,” Snead said.
The victim’s mother and father depicted the murder suspect as a man who bullies and assaults women, although his violent streak was unknown to them at the time he and Wendy Francis were seeing each other.
“He’s not going to hurt another girl,” said Gayle Snead yesterday. Of Wright’s reputation in the community, “I’ve never really heard anything good about him.”
In December 2013, Wright was charged by Campbell authorities for the assault of a woman, not Francis, who had been living at his Phelps Creek Road home. The severity of the victim’s injuries prompted emergency personnel to summon a helicopter to airlift her from Brookneal to Lynchburg General Hospital. She was later released.
Snead alluded to the incident in condemning Wright’s pattern of violence and intimidation: “When you put 80 stitches in someone’s head, that draws attention to your situation,” she said.
Wright has been incarcerated at the Campbell County Adult Detention Center since the Dec. 19 attack and is scheduled to go to trial at the end of this month on charges of aggravated malicious wounding. He was indicted earlier this week for Wendy Francis’ murder while still behind bars.
The officer who served the murder warrant Tuesday “said the look on his [Wright’s] face was priceless,” said Snead, referring to his surprise at being charged. “I feel like we’re moving forward.”
She speculated that Wright has gotten away with other misdeeds in the past, including domestic assault and drug parties, and may have thought that he was safe from prosecution in Francis’ disappearance as long as the body did not turn up: “I think he’d actually thought he’d gotten away with it. It had been two years and nothing had happened to him,” Snead said.
In February 2013, a team of some 40 law enforcement personnel spent 10 hours searching for evidence in the case, a sweep that combined the efforts of canine units, dive teams and officers on foot. Their focus was an area off Mattox Road in Brookneal and at Phillips Creek in northern Halifax County.
Snead praised the work of Campbell County’s Sheriff’s Office, calling the investigation and this week’s indictments “just awesome.”
Beadles, the father, said family members do not know much about the details of the case that Campbell investigators have built against Wright, although he pointed to one piece of potential key evidence: the discovery of blood in Wright’s doublewide trailer home on Phelps Creek Home. Both he and Ms. Snead, the victim’s mother, have given blood samples to the Campbell department for the purposes of DNA matching, Beadles said.
Snead expressed the hope that more information will be forthcoming in the case, perhaps from individuals who knew Wright but may have been afraid of crossing him before now.
“People in Campbell County who knew what happened need to come forward,” she said. “I do believe [Wendy’s body] is in Campbell County.”
To furnish information in the disappearance of Wendy Dawn Beadles Francis, contact the Central Virginia Crime Stoppers at 1-877-798-5900. Callers will be remain anonymous.
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