Suspect directed police to area where remains found

Frances Moss-Hopkins

A Berryville woman accused of first-degree murder made her initial appearance in Frederick County General District Court on Wednesday morning.

Police arrested Frances Charlene Moss-Hopkins, 55, of 2061 Withers Larue Road, and charged her with felony first-degree murder late Tuesday. Her arrest followed days of searching for 85-year-old Peggy “Peg” Sinclair, who was reported missing on Saturday from her home at 223 Glebe Drive near Lake Frederick in Frederick County.

A release from the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office in Romney, West Virginia, states that law enforcement discovered partially decomposed human remains off Scotty’s Gully Road near U.S. Route 50 just east of Romney on Tuesday. The West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office will be confirming the victim’s identity and cause of death, but the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday that the body found was that of Sinclair.

Continuing and expanding the search into Wednesday, Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office reported in a news release that its officers recovered additional evidence and found that the suspect had burned some evidence and remains in the nearby area.

A criminal complaint attached to Moss-Hopkins’ court documents notes that she directed investigators to the area in Romney where the remains were discovered. The complaint states that Moss-Hopkins “explained that the condition of the body would be horrible.”

Martinsburg, West Virginia, EVAK K9 team member Elaine Merceruio, left, and dog handlers Laurie Webber, center, with her German shepherd Lexi, and Erin Compher, with her giant schnauzer Raven, walk back to U.S. Route 50 on Wednesday after the cadaver dogs worked the area where Peggy “Peg” Sinclair's body was found on Tuesday. The volunteer team was looking for remains of the victim east of Romney, West Virginia. Rich Cooley/Daily

The complaint also states, “‘What I did to the body,’ commenting that she was unable to talk about it.”

Capt. Donnie Lang of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office said Moss-Hopkins had been a home caregiver to Sinclair for about a year.

He said that Moss-Hopkins, who was not employed by a business, would perform household tasks like cleaning. She was paid for her work, but Lang would not comment on the amount or frequency of those payments and said she had no other job that he knew of.

“(Sinclair’s) daughter works during the day, so (Moss-Hopkins) would come in, do some basic things,” he said.

He said investigators are still looking into possible motives.

Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Norman Launi, left, and Chief Deputy Nathan Sions walk down a path off U.S. Route 50 east of Romney, West Virginia, near where Peggy "Peg" Sinclair's body was found in June. Rich Cooley/Daily

“We’re really starting to investigate the overall thing that has led to this, and the motive to this, and anybody else could potentially be convicted,” he said. “We will continue to investigate the scene … to either confirm or eliminate other people’s involvement.”

A preliminary hearing for Moss-Hopkins in Frederick County General District Court is scheduled for July 26. She is being held without bail at Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com.


Capt. John Eckerson, left, of the Hampshire County Sheriff's Office, stretches crime scene tape Wednesday near where the body of Peggy "Peg" Sinclair was found on Tuesday. The Sheriff's Office was on the scene while cadaver dogs searched the area. Rich Cooley/Daily

Peggy "Peg" Sinclair's body was found across this section of U.S. Route 50 just east of Romney, West Virginia, on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

Peggy "Peg" Sinclair