Salem, West Virginia-
(A Deadly Silence…)
Mariah Keigley was just about to leave on an extended vacation with her Aunt to Michigan on June 26,2005. When her Aunt Tonya Knudsen came to get Mariah, she was no where to be found. When her Aunt asked her father where she was, he told his sister that she had left to visit a friend down the road. As time went on and the girl remained missing, 911 was contacted and volunteers began the search for the child whom people believed was kidnapped.
Search parties covered a 10-mile-radius in the area to search for Mariah. Later on that evening police found her father David Andrew Keigley near the back of the house with self-inflicted wounds on his body. He was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment and it was there that David admitted to police that he had killed his daughter by suffocating her with a blastic bag, then storing her body in a first floor room of their home.
The reason? He killed Mariah because he’d sexually assaulted her in December 2004 while on Christmas vacation. As a result of that, Mariah had become pregnant with her father’s child. Instead of her father possibly ending the pregnancy for which he caused-he silences her from ever telling about his abuse or the pregnancy by taking her life.
October 2006- David went on trial and suddenly, switched-up his story. He then claimed his girlfriend Amber Lilley Starr (above), had killed Mariah after finding out she was pregnant. The jury didn’t buy it and Dad was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The girlfriend (Starr) was arrested and was ultimately charged with gross child neglect resulting in bodily injury.
This is because she knew Mariah’s father’s was sexually abusing her and didn’t do anything to stop it. Instead of going to trial for her crime-Starr took an Alford plea (which is like a no-contest plea), therefore avoiding trial. In May 2007, after family members, friends and complete strangers (who knew about the case) sent the Doddridge County Judge about 400 letters, opposed to the plea bargain.
The same month, Amber Starr was sentenced to only 1 year in jail. She is currently serving in the regional jail, (where she belongs). But many people feel she should be there for a much longer stay.
This week marks three years since Mariah’s murder and I wanted to post this it explains some things and makes very valid points.
From an e-mail sent to me, early June 2008 from a person who knew Mariah:
“Neither one of Mariah’s parents were supposed to have custody of her or her brother and that included contact of any kind. It is really hard to gather information about how Mariah was returned to her Dad because the judge in that case is really affluent in our county and when the article ran after her murder about her brother-it somehow disappeared into thin air within a couple of days. I chalked it up to it being an election year and the judge knew if that info. went public he would lose his seat on the bench.”
They also wrote the following…
“Doddridge County is a very close-knit unit that likes to handle things internally, grieve privately and tries to stay out of the limelight…Everyone knows each other so they try to take care of each other. When something painful happens like Mariah’s death-they just want to lean on each other so they can pray and mourn privately. It was like a 3 wing circus after they found Mariah’s body.Newscasters showed up at the funeral home and tried to force their way inside the funeral itself and the graveside service.
Her friends didn’t even want to walk into the funeral because there were so many reporters there with cameras, and it didn’t help that those students or other mourners were told to stay so many feet from the funeral home.” Mariah wasn’t a celebrity she was a 14-year-old girl who deserved respect-something she obviously didn’t get while growing up.”