Slain West Virginia sheriff’s widow named as his replacement

Posted at 3:12 PM, Apr 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-04 15:12:47-04

Tennis Maynard DL photograph

From Susan Candiotti and Lateef Mungin

WILLIAMSON, West Virginia (CNN) 

A day after Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum was gunned down, his widow has become his successor.

Mingo County’s three commissioners on Thursday unanimously voted to have Rosie Crum serve out her husband’s term. The vote came during an emotional emergency meeting in the county courthouse in Wiliamson, just blocks from where authorities say a man fatally shot Eugene Crum on Wednesday.

“(Rosie Crum) is the best person to fulfill” her husband’s commitment to carry out what Eugene wanted to do in office, including taking steps to curb drug abuse in the county, Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith said.

Rosie Crum is to be sworn in at 8 p.m. ET Thursday at the courthouse, where a vigil for her husband also will be held.

[Original story, posted at 12:09 p.m. Thursday]

Suspect in W. Va. sheriff’s death once treated for mental issues, source says

(CNN) — The man suspected of killing a West Virginia sheriff spent time at a state hospital for mental health issues within the past couple of years, a source with knowledge of the suspect’s past told CNN.

Tennis Melvin Maynard, 37, remained hospitalized Thursday, a day after the shooting of Mingo County Sheriff Walter E. “Eugene” Crum as the lawman was eating lunch in his department vehicle.

Maynard, shot in the chest by deputies after a chase, is expected to survive, a state police spokesman said Thursday.

Maynard spent an unspecified amount of time at the facility, according to the source, who was unable to say who sought the care for Maynard — family, police or someone else.

Maynard’s father has told CNN affiliate WSAZ that his son had mental health issues caused by a workplace accident in Alabama and that he had been exposed to dangerous chemicals.

Maynard is accused of shooting Crum on Wednesday just blocks from the county courthouse.

Authorities think Maynard is the man who parked his car close to the sheriff’s, walked up and shot through the window, according to a state official briefed on the investigation. The man then fled in his car.

A sheriff’s deputy shot Maynard in the chest after a brief chase, authorities said.

As the suspect recuperated, many wondered why someone would target Crum, a sheriff known for his tough stance on drug dealers.

“He and his deputies and other law enforcement agencies have worked tirelessly to wipe out crime in our county, especially targeting the drug dealers who spread the disease of addiction among our residents,” said John Mark Hubbard, president of the Mingo County Commission.

“Pray for the residents of Mingo County as we struggle to understand why someone who fought so freely and selflessly on behalf of all of us was taken so tragically,” he said.

On the way to the hospital, the suspect spoke, West Virginia State Police First Sgt. Michael Baylous said.

“He said some things to us, and we’re still trying to make sense of it,” Baylous said. “It could be interpreted in different ways.”

A search of Mingo County court records show no criminal arrests or civil cases involving Maynard. His only citation involves failure to wear a seat belt, according to the records.

Crum, 59, took office as sheriff in January and quickly earned respect from many in the community, officials said. He was married and had children and grandchildren, and he also served as a county magistrate and a special investigator for the prosecutor’s office.

The sheriff’s slaying shook the rural county, which normally sees only one or two slayings per year, said Lt. Randy Hatfield of the Mingo County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s devastating,” Hatfield said. “It’s a big blow to the community.”

Asked whether officials thought there was any connection between Crum’s slaying and the recent killing of a Colorado prison official or the slayings of two Texas prosecutors, Hatfield said, “I hope not,” but declined to elaborate.

CNN”s Ross Levitt and Jason Hanna contributed to this report.

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