Thursday, July 3, 2008

R.I.P. Reverend Mark McCalla

WAYNE, W.Va. (AP) - Authorities are investigating the death of a former Ohio minister whose body was found at a shooting range in the Beech Fork area.

The Rev. Mark McCalla's body was found Thursday morning. Wayne County Sheriff David Pennington says McCalla suffered a single shot to the head. Police say it's a homicide.

Before serving at Highlawn Presbyterian Church in Huntington, McCalla worked at churches in Columbus, Ohio, and Corry and Franklin, Pa.

McCalla's body was found about an hour after he served breakfast to a group of volunteers working to improve area housing for low-income residents.

Pennington says authorities are not sure if the 45-year-old went to the state park by himself.


Suspects, considered AWOL from the Army, have been arrested.By 700WLW News
Saturday, June 28, 2008

(Huntington, WV.) A Cincinnati man is one of two men that was arrested in the killing of a former Ohio minister. Both men were arrested in Columbus Friday night.

First-degree murder warrants were filed in Huntington, West Virginia against 22-year old Daniel Smith of Cincinnati, and 19-year old Stephen Wilson of Virginia in the shooting death of 48-year old Reverend Mark McCalla. Smith and Wilson are U.S. Army deserters, and had been stationed at Ft. Drum in New York, but the Army says they have been gone since May.

McCalla's body was found about 5-miles south of Huntington, WV. at a rifle range June 19th. His body was discovered an hour after he served breakfast to a group of volunteers working to improve housing for low-income residents. He had been shot in the head.


Highlawn Presbyterian Church members grieve for slain pastor
Jun 22, 2008 @ 06:09 PM

HUNTINGTON — Though no one wanted to talk about exactly what was said at Sunday’s service at Highlawn Presbyterian Church, it was evident that it was a prelude to what today’s funeral service will be like for their slain pastor, Mark McCalla.

The 11 a.m. service concluded at about 12:15 p.m., and people slowly filed out the doors. Many were still wiping away tears, while others embraced.

The service was led by Richard Wilson, the director of the Pastoral Counseling Center at Cabell Huntington Hospital, said church elder Charlie Woolcock. He also said that McCalla’s family has asked that he and church members hold comments from the media until after the funeral services.

Visitation to celebrate the pastor’s life was held at Chapman’s Mortuary in Huntington Sunday afternoon and evening. A service will be held in his honor at 2 p.m. today at Highlawn Presbyterian Church, 2814 Collis Ave. The Rev. Mike Duchaneau will lead the service.

McCalla was found dead of a gunshot to the head at the rifle range at Beech Fork State Park last Thursday morning. The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate what they’ve declared a homicide.


Two arrested in slaying of former minister
By The Associated Press

HUNTINGTON -- Two U.S. Army deserters charged in the killing of a West Virginia minister at a state park shooting range have been arrested in Ohio, police said.

Stephen C. Wilson, 19, of Cincinnati, and Daniel R. Smith, 22, of Newport News, Va., were arrested without incident Friday in Columbus, Ohio, said Sgt. Dana Norman of the Columbus Police Department.

First-degree murder warrants were filed in West Virginia against the men Friday in the death of the Rev. Mark McCalla, 48, who had worked at churches in Ohio and Franklin, Pa. McCalla had been working at Highlawn Presbyterian Church in Huntington. He was shot once in the head at close range and dragged about 20 yards, authorities said.

McCalla's body was found June 19 at the Beech Fork Lake Wildlife Management Area, about five miles south of Huntington. It was discovered about an hour after he served breakfast to a group of volunteers working to improve housing for low-income residents.

According to authorities and criminal complaints filed in Wayne County court, the two suspects told a fellow soldier they had shot and killed McCalla.

Smith and Wilson had been stationed at Fort Drum in New York, but the Army has listed them as deserters since May, authorities said. Base spokesman Randolph Murphy said they were in Fort Drum's 10th Mountain Division.

The men had been staying at a home near Huntington with a fellow soldier they served with at Fort Drum, according to criminal complaints. The home was searched Thursday, and police confiscated about a dozen firearms, among other items. The other soldier who lived at the home has not been charged.

Wayne County Sheriff David Pennington said police think McCalla was killed with his own gun, which they have not recovered.

"If any, the one solace that we can take from this is that these two will cause no other family to go through what we have over the past week,'' McCalla's stepson Alan Eargle said in a statement. "We are somewhat relieved, still bewildered, and just plain angry that we will never be able to understand the motive for such a heinous act.''

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