After allegedly fatally shooting four people, setting off an hourslong manhunt and putting schools and residents on alert for an armed man, the owner of a small towing business was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in his truck in the woods, state police said Monday.
The search for Jody Lee Hunt, 39, began about 10 a.m., when state and local authorities warned people to look out for his black 2011 Ford F-150. Hunt was wanted in three separate shootings – two in the Westover area, outside Morgantown, and another in the Cheat Lake area in Monongalia County, state police said.
Officials released the names of two of the victims but little other information until after 7 p.m., when he was found in his vehicle. The truck was in “a power line right of way,” state police spokesman Lt. Dennis Johnson said.
Medical officials will work to confirm the body’s identity, police said, but few other details about the man or the shootings were released. On Tuesday, investigators at each of the three crime scenes will “sit down and piece all those puzzle pieces together and find out how this all happened,” state police spokesman Lt. Michael Baylous said.
Hunt owned J&J Towing and Repair LLC of Westover, according to state documents. There was little activity there Monday, and the door was padlocked. Neighbor Frank Brown said business is usually brisk, especially in the early morning.
By Monday night, three of the four victims’ names had been released: Sharon Kay Berkshire, 39, of Westover; Michael David Frum, 28, of Maidsville; and Doug Brady, owner of a towing company located less than a quarter mile from Hunt’s company.
Berkshire filed a domestic violence case against Hunt last month, according to Monongalia County Circuit Court records. Court records indicated there were no protective orders currently in place for Berkshire.
Frum’s aunt, Ellen Shafer, of the Cheat Lake area, said she knew few details about her nephew’s death. She said Frum worked on detailing cars in Westover and did some construction work and other odd jobs.
“We were just saddened, and we’re living with the realization of his death and coping the best we can,” Shafer said.
Arlene Barnett of Westover said she was drinking coffee at her home when she heard four gunshots shortly after 10 a.m. at a nearby trailer where one of the victims lived.
“I didn’t pay any attention to it because I thought, oh heck, it’s deer season,” Barnett said. “I thought they were deer hunting. I just went about my business and didn’t connect anything. Then I heard the sirens.”