Records sought in VFW investigation

Nearly a year after the Front Royal Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1860 was destroyed in a fire, the Front Royal Police Department has continued its investigation into the fire and other incidents at the post.

An affadavit for a search warrant filed in Frederick County Circuit Court by the Front Royal Police Department earlier this month describes the investigation.

A fire at the post on July 11, 2015, consumed much of the building and caused around $500,000 in damages, Warren County Fire Chief Richard E. Mabie estimated at the time. He said firefighters stayed on the scene until the next afternoon.

Days after the fire, Front Royal Police Chief Norman Shiflett wrote in a statement that the department was investigating a burglary that occurred on July 3, where intruders broke into gaming machines and removed money. The affadavit states that money from the cash register was also removed and a basement motion alarm had been triggered.

Audits conducted on the alarm system at the time showed that the first floor alarm was either not set or not triggered during the theft, according to the affadavit. A woman in charge of the building said the alarm system must have malfunctioned and authorities told her “a complete audit would be done on the alarm system to verify the operational use of the system” on July 13, 2015.

A search of the post after the fire revealed that there was no money in the safe. Although a trash can fire in the ladies’ restroom was reported at the time, the affadavit states that someone in the building extinguished that fire. Investigation into a second fire could lead to arson charges.

The affadavit also states that a financial audit on the woman in charge of the building showed that more than $40,000 was deposited to her bank from January to May 2015 through 39 transactions ranging from $140 to $3,200. It also states that the same woman received reimbursements for the purchase of alcoholic beverages, which led to the warrants for records of three beverage suppliers based in Winchester.

Front Royal Police Detective David Fogle said he cannot comment on the ongoing investigation. No arrests have been made.

Demolition of the VFW post building began June 9, and the post announced that a new single-story building will be erected on the same plot of land. The new 5,000-square foot building will be built of steel. Post Commander Chuck Midkiff has said the new building “will require significant fundraising.”

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