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Candidates announced for Berryville council seat

By J.R. Williams --

Ward 4 residents who made the Aug. 21 deadline:

* Carol Brophy, a retired federal government worker and member of the Battlefield Estates Civic Association. She also works with the Clarke County Affordable Senior Housing Alliance.

* William A. "Chip" Steinmetz II, who serves on the Clarke County Planning Commission and is the owner of Re/Max Roots Realty in Berryville.

* Alton Echols Jr., an area Realtor, developer and contractor, who is developer of Battlefield Estates.

* Allan W. "Buggs" McWilliams, who served on the Berryville Town Council from 1982 to 2006.

* David L. Tollett, who currently serves on the Berryville Planning Commission. He is a retired state police division commander.

The special appointment is planned for nearly six weeks after Gail Smith, who previously held the post, was found dead in her home on July 30 from a single gunshot wound to the head.

The Clarke County Sheriff's Office, Berryville police and state police are still investigating.

Clarke County Sheriff Anthony W. "Tony" Roper said Thursday no arrests or charges have been brought in the case, and authorities do not have a specific suspect in mind. However, recent interviews are keeping investigators "very active," and the case is developing, he said.

"There is a definite place that the information is leading us to," Roper said. "We're following where the information leads us logically. ... There can be a huge distance between motive and opportunity -- between who pulled the trigger."

Berryville Police Chief Neal White was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Search warrants filed in the court show Smith may have known her killer. There was no sign of forced entry or robbery at her home, and friends told police that Smith expressed fear for her well-being before she died.

At the time of her death, the longtime public official was embroiled in a civil suit over the guardianship of her elderly father, Timothy R. Smith Sr., of New Jersey, and his estate.

Gail Smith's siblings objected to her stewardship of their father's finances and were suspicious of her handling of the funds.

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