by Kate Shunney
Last Thursday’s arrest of a Berkeley Springs man for the murder of teen Riley Crossman shifted police focus from a missing person’s search to a full criminal investigation.
West Virginia Department of Natural Resources officers on May 16 recovered decomposed remains in neighboring Berkeley County along a steep embankment along Tuscarora Pike. Police are highly confident they are those of Crossman, reported missing on Wednesday, May 8.
Morgan County Sheriff K.C. Bohrer said Monday an autopsy of the remains will provide “critical” information in building a murder case against Andy J. McCauley Jr., 41.
McCauley has been charged with first-degree murder in Crossman’s death. He was the boyfriend of Crossman’s mother, Chantel Oakley, and stayed at their home, according to the criminal complaint against him.
McCauley was arraigned by Morgan County Magistrate Kermit Ambrose by video conference on Friday, May 17. He is being held without bond at the Eastern Regional Jail. A preliminary hearing in his case is set for this Friday, May 24.
Police are still assembling evidence to create a timeline of events that begins on Tuesday, May 7, when Crossman was last seen alive at her mother’s home on Greenway Drive in Berkeley Springs.
Court records related to McCauley’s arrest say Wednesday, May 8 is when police believe McCauley murdered Crossman.
West Virginia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner began the autopsy on Friday, May 17. Sheriff Bohrer said Monday he has spoken with members of the autopsy team but he doesn’t expect a full report immediately. He said it can take months for full reports to be received by law enforcement.
Bohrer said the autopsy results will answer key questions in the case. The first will be if the remains are Crossman, as police strongly believe. Medical examiners should also be able to determine the cause and manner of death, and maybe how long the remains had been in the spot where they were discovered.
While investigators await those results, work continues on the case.
“We are continuing to watch and seek video to establish timelines and narrow down movement of the suspect,” said Bohrer.
He emphasized that McCauley is the primary suspect in Crossman’s disappearance.
During a May 16 press conference about McCauley’s arrest, Bohrer confirmed police had been watching the boyfriend throughout the investigation.
“He has been a person of interest since day one,” Bohrer said.
There were rumors late last week that Crossman’s mother had been arrested in the case, but those are false, the sheriff said.
“At this point in time, there is no investigation into anyone else being involved,” Bohrer said.
“We’ve got to build a case and eliminate any other possibilities,” said Bohrer.
Rumors surrounding the case have been widespread.
“We’ve received volumes of information that aren’t fact-based,” Bohrer said.
Police continue to seek first-hand, factual information about the movements of McCauley or Crossman around the time of the teen’s disappearance.
Sheriff Bohrer, Chief John Walter and Deputy Luke Shambaugh are the primary officers working the case, though law enforcement assistance has come from the West Virginia State Police, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and police agencies around the region.
Last Wednesday, May 15, close to 350 volunteers and dozens more law enforcement personnel spread out across Morgan County in a coordinated search to look for any clues or signs of Crossman’s whereabouts. It wasn’t the first search for her, but the single largest effort to locate the teen.
Lance Crossman, Riley’s father, spoke to the gathered crowd of volunteers at The Pines Opportunity Center before they went to search for his daughter. He thanked them for their efforts to bring her home, his voice shaking as he acknowledged the family was hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.
Teams covered Cacapon State Park, all through Berkeley Springs, Coolfont/Cold Run Valley Road, the Potomac River bridge, Lover’s Leap, all CSX railroad properties, Great Cacapon, Largent, Magnolia, Paw Paw, River Road, Sleepy Creek state lands and Sir Johns Run.
Volunteers were asked to look along roadsides, in culverts, around abandoned buildings, in dumpsters and freezers and anywhere a person could be hidden.
On Thursday morning, DNR officers found remains matching Crossman’s description dozens of miles to the east.
According to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department, McCauley was asked to come speak to officers at the Martinsburg State Police detachment later on Thursday. He was arrested by Cpl. F.H. Edwards of the West Virginia State Police and charged with murder at that time.
Video & physical evidence
According to a criminal complaint filed in Morgan County Magistrate Court, the location of the remains believed to be Crossman are “consistent with a route of travel” that McCauley could have taken from Berkeley Springs to Hedgesville, where he worked on a construction site at the time of Crossman’s disappearance.
An eye witness told police that a green Dodge truck with a ladder rack backed into the driveway of Crossman’s mother’s home on the morning of May 8 at around 10 a.m.
During the course of the investigation, police determined that McCauley had access to a green Dodge work truck, and left his job site in the Red Hill Subdivision of Hedgesville at 9 a.m. on May 8, returning to the site at 1:41 p.m.
According to court records, McCauley’s accounts about where he was on the day of Crossman’s disappearance were inconsistent. He allegedly told police he never left the job site, then later said he left to drive to Eagle Plaza to buy drugs. McCauley later allegedly admitted to returning home to Greenway Drive in Berkeley Springs that Wednesday, but said he was only there for a short time in order to get cocaine for himself and a co-worker. McCauley allegedly told police he injected cocaine with a needle, and then returned to work.
Court records claim that video surveillance doesn’t show McCauley returning to his job site by Route 9, and instead places him along Apple Harvest Drive, which parallels Tuscarora Pike.
A police search of the green Dodge work truck that McCauley drove was conducted using cadaver dogs on Wednesday, May 15. Police said dogs indicated signs of a deceased person odor in the bed of the truck, under a utility toolbox. There was drywall mud spilled in the bed of the truck
The remains located along Tuscarora Pike the next day showed drywall mud on the right shoulder and right foot of the deceased.
Searches of the Oakley residence on Greenway Drive continued after McCauley’s arrest.
A prayer vigil for the Crossman family was held in Berkeley Springs State Park just hours after police announced they had made an arrest in the case. The park was filled with community members holding candles and expressing their grief at the outcome of the search for the 15-year-old girl.
Morgan County school officials arranged for counselors and volunteers to be available for students at Berkeley Springs High School on Friday, May 17. Superintendent Erich May said the schools would provide support and counseling to students as they faced the loss of their classmate. Other community efforts are underway to memorialize Riley Crossman, who teachers and friends remember as a bright, positive young woman.