Search and seizure: Officials find computer, gas station purchases at suspect’s home
BERRYVILLE – Documents filed in Clarke County Circuit Court on Thursday describe evidence seized from the home of murder suspect Frances Charlene Moss-Hopkins, including materials she bought from a West Virginia gas station on the day that Peg Sinclair went missing.
Moss-Hopkins is being held without bond at Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center in Frederick County after being charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sinclair, 85, of Frederick County.
Attached criminal complaints state that notebook papers found near a desktop computer in the house have writings of “does Clorox really clean up Blood,” the word “Hydrogen Peroxide” and written mentions of a “Liberty Express Shop.”
Investigators noted that the written words and phrases seemed to correspond with internet research. Although one warrant includes access to electronic data, Capt. Donnie Lang said the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office had not started forensic testing of any electronic equipment as of Thursday evening.
Sinclair was reported missing on Saturday by her daughter, Melissa Gilkerson, who lived with her at 223 Glebe Drive near Lake Frederick in Frederick County. Moss-Hopkins, Sinclair’s caregiver, was arrested Tuesday and what are believed to be the charred, dismembered remains of Sinclair were discovered in woods off of Scotty Gully Road near U.S. Route 50 each of Romney, West Virginia, on Tuesday.
Search warrants for Moss-Hopkins’ home at 2061 Withers Larue Road in Berryville list two bags of charcoal, one bottle of bleach, a computer tower, hard drive, cell phone, bed sheets with stains and papers among items seized by investigators.
Moss-Hopkins told investigators she stopped at a Liberty gas station off U.S. Route 50 in West Virginia for gas and a drink, according to a complaint. After looking at surveillance footage from the Capon Valley Market in Capon Bridge, West Virginia, on Monday, investigators confirmed that she stopped there early Saturday morning and bought gas.
They also saw that she bought a gallon of bleach, three 32-ounce bottles of charcoal starter, a roll of paper towels, a bag of charcoal and three large boxes of matches.
The complaint also notes that in the surveillance video, Moss-Hopkins is wearing a different outfit from the one she said told investigators she was wearing early Saturday morning.
Ken Mendel and Isabelle Jaymes said they’ve lived on a 3-acre plot down the road from the Hopkins house since 1998. They said Moss-Hopkins and her husband Joe Hopkins helped them with horses they used to own.
“Joe was always helping with the horses and stuff,” Jaymes said. “In fact, both of them – if horses got out, they were always so helpful.”
Mendel said the Hopkinses seemed like positive and good people, and Jaymes described learning about the charges against Moss-Hopkins as “shocking.”
“It’s mind-boggling to anyone who knows them, that’s all I can say,” she said.
Like many others in the neighborhood, Mendel and Jaymes said the Hopkinses have been looking to sell their house. They said the road’s proximity to the nearby Summit Point Motorsports Park and BSR training facility make selling houses there difficult.
Lang said the autopsy conducted on remains believed to be Sinclair’s is complete, but is awaiting a positive identity. He said investigators have sent information to doctors and dentists who worked with Sinclair to compare to medical records and aid in that process.
Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org