By Joe Beck
Shenandoah County authorities arrested a 35-year-old Edinburg man Monday afternoon and charged him with first-degree murder in the death of Phyllis Henrietta Kline, 65, of 14887 Old Valley Pike.
Maj. Scott Proctor of the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office said Claude Delmus Shafer Jr. was arrested without incident at his home at 14447 Old Valley Pike around 4 p.m. and charged an hour later. The charges also include burglary with intent to commit robbery and grand larceny.
The arrest came after an intensive day and a half investigation that began with sheriff's deputies discovering Kline's body in her home around 9:40 a.m. Sunday.
They had been called to the scene after members of Kline's church, Walker's Chapel Church of the Brethren, went to her house to check on her well-being, authorities said.
"She was a pianist there, and when she did not show up for church and the members became concerned, some friends were directed to check on her welfare," Proctor said. "They found the condition of the house suspicious. That's when they called 911."
Authorities combed the scene for evidence throughout the night and morning, Proctor said. Law enforcement officers from Woodstock, Strasburg, Shenandoah County, Mount Jackson and New Market participated in the investigation. Proctor said trained dogs from the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Fairfax County Police Department were also on the scene.
Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy C. Carter said his department had "a lot of different staff doing different tasks in this case."
"A tremendous amount of hard work went into this case in a short amount of time, and investigators are to be commended for that," Carter said.
The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Kline's death a homicide earlier Monday. Authorities refused to talk about how Kline died, citing the continuing investigation into her death as their reason.
Asked whether there were any other suspects in the case, Carter replied, "There's some unfinished business we need to take care of in this case. At this point, it's still an open investigation. We don't want to close the door on anything at this point."
Shafter is scheduled to appear in Shenandoah County General District Court today. He was being held without bond in the Shenandoah County Jail as of Monday evening.
Anyone with additional information in the case is asked to contact Proctor at 459-6100.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org