by Kate Shunney
Berkeley County Magistrate Richard Stephens on Wednesday found probable cause to shift a murder case against Andy J. McCauley into the Circuit Court. The case will likely be presented to the next Morgan County Grand Jury, which meets in September.
Magistrate Stephens was appointed to preside over the June 12 preliminary hearing for McCauley, who is accused of murdering Berkeley Springs teen Riley Crossman between May 7 and May 8.
The hearing by an outside magistrate came about at the request of McCauley’s attorney because Crossman’s grandmother is Morgan County Magistrate Debbie Ditto.
Crossman was reported missing on May 8 after her mother learned she didn’t attend classes at Berkeley Springs High School and couldn’t be reached by family members or friends that afternoon or evening.
McCauley was the boyfriend of the teen’s mother.
Both Crossman’s parents and two dozen other family members and friends attended the Wednesday afternoon preliminary hearing in the Morgan County Courthouse.
The hearing lasted more than two hours. During that time, Morgan County Prosecuting Attorney Dan James led Cpl. Fred Edwards of the West Virginia State Police through testimony about the investigation leading to the discovery of Crossman’s body along a Berkeley County hillside on May 16.
Cpl. Edwards was the sole witness called by James as he presented the state’s case of probable cause to Magistrate Stephens. Multiple police agencies, from the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department to the FBI, investigated the disappearance of Crossman.
Cpl. Edwards, an investigator with the Crimes Against Children Unit of the West Virginia State Police, told the court that he was contacted on May 10 by the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department to assist with the search for Crossman.
Edwards testified that he interviewed McCauley on May 10 about his movements on the day that Riley Crossman went missing.
According to Edwards, Crossman’s grandmother Debbie Ditto was at Crossman’s home with her granddaughter and her two younger brothers on Greenway Drive until 7:30 p.m.
Investigators established that Crossman’s mother, Chantel Oakley, came home from a second job around 10:30 p.m. Before going to bed, Oakley said she saw her daughter’s door closed and light coming from beneath the door.
McCauley was at the residence when Oakley returned home.
According to police, McCauley claimed he woke up at 2 a.m. and got in touch with Bobby Golden, Ditto’s husband, in order to buy drugs.
Cpl. Edwards said Golden confirmed McCauley came to purchase Suboxone strips. McCauley told police he bought cocaine. Investigators said there was inconsistency in McCauley’s story about whether he walked or drove to make the drug purchase.
McCauley also told investigators that he had contacted Don Morgan, a Berkeley Springs business owner and contractor, because he was afraid a West Virginia State Police trooper had seen him buying drugs that night and he wanted a place to “lay low.”
James showed phone records from that date, listing 16 calls from McCauley’s phone to Morgan’s. James said Morgan was concerned and approach police to assist in their investigation.
Cpl. Edwards testified that investigators were able to corroborate all of Oakley’s statements about her movements on May 8 – from taking her two sons to school to having coffee with a friend before she left for work at 9:45 a.m.
Oakley tried to contact her daughter around the time that school let out, then began calling family members to find Riley Crossman, police said. Oakley went to the high school campus to search for her daughter. At 6 p.m., she received an automated phone call from the public school system that Riley Crossman had been marked absent that day, James said.
Truck movements key
The majority of evidence presented during the preliminary hearing focused on video evidence showing McCauley’s movements in a borrowed work truck on May 8.
According to testimony by Cpl. Edwards, McCauley was picked up for his job at his Greenway Drive residence around 5 a.m. on May 8. Co-workers said he then took a green Dodge Ram pickup truck from the Red Hill Subdivision in Hedgesville, saying he was going to meet someone.
McCauley told police, in a videotaped interview shown during the hearing, that he went to meet people to buy drugs in Hedgesville.
He later told police he drove back to the Berkeley Springs residence to pick up drugs.
Surveillance video images presented during the hearing show the green Dodge Ram work truck traveling toward Berkeley Springs on Route 9 between 9 and 9:30 a.m. Police said a witness saw that green truck backed into the driveway of the Greenway Drive residence at 10:13 a.m.
Edwards testified that McCauley said he drove right back to his job site in Hedgesville that day, but the truck is not seen along the route on surveillance video.
Cpl. Edwards testified that the case shifted when officers found video surveillance of a green Dodge truck at Hernandez store along Tuscarora Pike. Investigators then began considering that McCauley had taken a different route back to his work site on May 8.
A cadaver dog alerted to the presence of decomposition on the Dodge truck on May 15, the same day that hundreds of volunteers searched Morgan County for signs of the missing teen.
Edwards testified that on May 16, law enforcement searchers spread out from the area around Hernandez Store. Crossman’s body was found six miles from the store that morning.
James said brown construction screws were found along the roadway above the hillside where Crossman’s body was then found. Those same screws were found inside the green work truck and in McCauley’s work belt. The prosecutor showed photographs of the site where the teen’s body was found, with the majority of her body blocked from view.
Crossman’s mother and several family members left the courtroom as the photos were shown.
James pointed out that the wooded area and parts of Crossman’s body were covered in drywall compound. The work truck driven by McCauley on May 8 was seen in videos with a large amount of drywall mud spilled in the bed and along the toolbox.
James closed his arguments before Magistrate Stephens by saying Riley Crossman had been in contact with her boyfriend during the late evening of May 7. He showed an image of a screen with messages from Crossman to her boyfriend, reading, “Andy’s in my room” and “I’m scared.”
McCauley didn’t speak during the preliminary hearing, but sat in wrist and ankle shackles in a prison uniform.
His attorney, Andrew Arnold, waived any closing statement and made no other statements before the court.
McCauley will remain incarcerated without bond while his case awaits a hearing in Morgan County Circuit Court.