Police looking at Detroit link in murder case

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - Crack cocaine dealers from Detroit are increasing their activities in West Virginia's second largest city, and Huntington police said Tuesday they believe people from the Motor City are linked to the weekend slaying of four teenagers.

One of those teenagers was Eddrick Clark, 18, of South Point.

"It's disturbing that we've become such a magnet for criminals from Detroit," Huntington Mayor David Felinton said. Detroit is about 330 miles north of Huntington.

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Huntington police Capt. Steve Hall has said the likely target of the early morning attack was 19-year-old Dante Ward, and that the other three teens may have been killed to prevent them from identifying the shooter.

"There are individuals from Detroit in our town dealing drugs, crack cocaine," Hall said. "We have obtained information that the individuals who killed these people are from Detroit. For whatever reason, they had a beef or they had a problem with Dante. What that problem was is still under investigation.

"We don't know what the beef was. It could be drug related. It could be a domestic issue. It could be they didn't like they way he wore his hair. We just don't know right now," Hall said.

Hall said 15 people were questioned Monday in connection with the shootings, 11 of them from Detroit - eight of whom were arrested on unrelated charges. No further arrests had been made Tuesday.

The other teens murdered Sunday were Michael Dillon, 17, and Megan Poston, 16. Poston was Dillon's date to his high school prom Saturday night.

A spokesman for the Detroit Police Department said no one in his agency had been contacted by West Virginia law enforcement in connection with the shooting.

Hall has said increasing influence by Detroit-based drug dealers has brought other violent crime to Huntington.

For example, two people from Detroit whom authorities suspect of dealing crack have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with last year's fatal shooting of a 31-year-old Huntington woman.

Other law enforcement officials agree that the city of 50,000 is popular with out-of-state drug dealers.

"There's more money to be made on the streets of Huntington or Charleston than in Detroit because there's less competition," said Joseph Ciccarelli, senior supervisory agent for the FBI in Charleston.

Felinton added that dealers can use their drug proceeds to buy cheaper and more readily available guns to resell in Michigan.

Ciccarelli speculated that family links between former West Virginians who left for jobs in Columbus or Detroit are now being exploited by drug dealers.

"If Aunt Tilly still lives in Huntington, that might be a place for a crack dealer out of Detroit to find a place to stay," he said.