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 a 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 one year in the regional jail, (where she belongs) but many people feel she should be there for a much longer stay, including me.
Amber Starr’s Statements-WV State Police…
Statement of Corporal D. Cayton regarding Criminal Investigation Report # 1120.
At approximately 1500 hours on Monday, June 27, 2005, while assisting other members of the West Union detachment with this investigation, TFC C.E. Boring had requested that I respond to a nearby cabin in order to speak with the four year old son of Amber Starr. TFC Boring advised this officer that the juvenile was supposed to be at the cabin by this time and may have helpful information regarding the whereabouts of the victim, Mariah Keigley. I fulfilled this request and traveled to this cabin with Sheriff Underwood.
At approximately 1520 hours on this date, I arrived at the cabin and was met in the driveway by Ms.Starr. She immediately inquired from from these officers if the victim had been located and she was advised that there was no additional information to report.
The victim’s Aunt Tonya Knudsen and a young blonde haired male subject were seated on the porch of the cabin. These officers and Ms.Starr also went onto the porch where this officer began speaking with Ms.Starr. When this officer inquired from Ms.Starr the circumstances about this incident, Ms.Starr recalled her version of these events.
While speaking with this officer, Ms.Starr began sobbing/crying, heavily, at times; however, Ms.Starr didn’t expel any tears. As a result of this, the undersigned officer asked Ms.Starr to accompany this officer away from the cabin and away from other persons who were present there. This officer and Ms.Starr sat on the ground along side the driveway in a shady area and continued speaking about this incident. Throughout this conversation, Ms.Starr occasionally would cry/sob again, even though at no time were any tears present.
At one point in this conversation, this officer asked Ms.Starr about Mr.Nicholas coming to the residence and removing guns from the residence before TFC Boring had returned to the scene. Ms.Starr confirmed that Mr. Nicholas had come to the residence and had stated, “We have to get everything out of here before they get here.” Ms. Starr advised that she believed two (2) long rifles had been removed from the residence. I had then asked Starr if she felt this to be unusual behavior considering that Mariah was missing and that the focus of everyone’s concern should be on locating her and not removing guns out of the residence. Ms.Starr sat there briefly before subsequently agreeing with what I had said. I had then asked her if any other property had been removed from the residence,which she thought about for a short time and then admitted that she had gathered up some marijuana pipes and had also ensured that they were removed from the house.
I continued talking to Ms.Starr about this incident and later made the above inquiry again about the guns. At this point, Ms.Starr advised this officer that a third (3rd) gun had also been removed from the residence,which was described as being a .380 handgun that David had purchased for her birthday.Ms.Starr related there had not been any ammunition for this firearm in the residence and further stated that she had never purchased any ammunition for it since she owned it. Corporal Cayton stated Ms.Starr later advised she had once shot the .380 at a piece of paper in the backyard of the residence.
Corporal Cayton advised he asked Ms.Starr why she believed David had attempted to committ suicide. Ms.Starr advised she believed David attempted to committ suicide because he knew she was planning on leaving him and he was very distraught. Ms.Starr advised that his attempt could have resulted in her having told David Keigley that the police were coming to the residence and that when they did he was “going to have a bad day”. Corporal Cayton stated he asked Ms.Starr what she had meant by this statement. Ms.Starr advised David Keigley had already lost one child to foster care and that he would probably lose Mariah.
Corporal Cayton advised he asked Ms.Starr if she would protect David if she believed he had done something to Mariah. Ms.Starr advised she would not protect Mr. Keigley under any circumstances because “no man is worth doing that for”. Corporal Cayton stated he asked Ms.Starr about the possibility of Mariah being pregnant and who she thought the pregnancy had been caused by. Ms.Starr explained that she did suspect that Mariah was pregnant and she had assumed the child was David Keigley’s. Corporal Cayton advised he asked Ms.Starr why she had not reported David for this if she had a reason to suspect this. Ms.Starr replied she did not know. Ms.Starr replied she just wanted the matter to be over and once it was, she was never going back to the house.
Starr’s Polygraph-WV State Police…
Corporal Cayton and the undersigned officer agreed to offer Amber a polygraph test to eliminate her as a suspect.
At 1900 hours at West Union Wed. June 27, 2005:
Ms.Starr explained Mariah was eager to go on trip to Michigan on vacation. She also advised that she believed that David may have had something to do with Mariah’s disappearance because of his demeanor when she was reported missing. Ms.Starr explained that she had no direct knowledge of Mariah’s disappearance or to where she may be at this time. Corporal Kush inquired about Ms. Starr’s knowledge of David Keigley’s sexual relationship with Mariah. Ms.Starr explained she found David sitting on Mariah’s bed naked, while Mariah slept on two occasions.Ms. Starr advised she found it strange David sat there staring at Mariah. Ms.Starr stated she did not see David doing anything to Mariah but she had her suspicions. Ms.Starr stated that she also observed David to be naked walking around the upstairs of the residence while Mariah was sleeping. Ms.Starr explained that David drank alot and on several occasions he was intoxicated. Ms.Starr explained she purchased a pregnancy test for Mariah because she was afraid of the possibility Mariah was pregnant due to her missing her periods and she noticed Mariah was getting bigger.
Corporal Kush advised he administered the polygraph test to Ms.Starr and asked the following relevant questions.
Relevent: Did you plan to cause any injuries to Mariah before the day of her disappearance?
Relevent: Are you lying when you say you saw Mariah the morning of her disappearance?
Relevent: Did anyone tell you that they caused Mariah’s disappearance?
Relevent:Do you know for sure where Mariah is right now?
Corporal Kush advised he reviewed the physiological data recorded on the charts produced from this examination and concluded Ms.Starr’s charts were inconclusive while answering the relevant questions.
Corporal Kush and Sergeant Merrill spoke with Ms. Starr during the post test interview. Ms.Starr began to cry and explained the same as stated in the pre test interview; that she believed that David may have had something to do with the disappearance because of what she had observed in Mariah’s bedroom and because of David’s general demeanor. Ms. Starr advised that when she arrived home on the day of Mariah’s disppearance she told David he better not have had anything to do with Mariah’s disappearance. Ms.Starr explained that David did not respond. Ms. Starr stated she went around to the neighbors looking for Mariah. She advised on the night before the Mariah’s disappearance, that she (Starr) had been drinking and that she smoked marijuana with David Keigley.
Sergeant Merrill spoke with Ms. Starr about a possible argument that David and Mariah may have had the night before the reported disappearance.At first Ms.Starr didn’t recall any such argument.Corporal Kush advised Ms. Starr then put her head down and began to cry as she appeared to attempt to remember anything that she may have witnessed on the night in question. Ms. Starr stated that she then remembered David and Mariah standing on the stairs arguing. Ms. Starr stated that she witnessed the argument continuing up the stairs.Corporal Kush stated Ms. Starr that began to cry harder and she stated that David Keigley had his hands around Mariah’s neck and was choking her.
Ms. Starr advised that she could not remember if this happened in the bathroom or in Mariah’s bedroom. Corporal Kush advised while exploring this issue, Ms. Starr ‘s answers became more delayed. Kush advused at the time Ms. Starr appeared to be thinking harder. advised that she could see David carry Mariah’s body outside and into a field near a creek with clean cut grass and small Christmas trees. Ms.Starr advised David walked past a barn, through a fence and then buried Mariah near the creek bed. Ms.Starr denied she helped David Keigley carry Mariah to this location. Corporal Kush advised Ms. Starr explained the area she was talking about and assisted with a hand-drawn map of the area in question. Ms. Starr agreed to go to the area and attempt to look for Mariah’s body. Corporal Kush advised during the interview with Ms. Starr she was given several breaks at which time she was able to leave the premises. After each break Ms. Starr voluntarily returned to the interview.
Tuesday June 28, 2005 at 0015 hours:
Undersigned officer, Sergeant Merrill,Corporal Kush, Corporal S.D. Swiger, Trooper First Class B.S. Snodgrass and Trooper First Class M.A. Kiddy traveled to the area explained by Ms. Starr. This area was located approximately 0.5 mile(s) west of the Keigley residence along Miletus Road.
Upon arrival, Ms. Starr lead the above mentioned troopers to to a lawn with several small pine trees. She explained that she could see David digging in the creek with a shovel. Starr advised she observed David bury Mariah along the creek near the water. Starr advised she could see David with the shovel abd could only see his body from the mid-section up. Ms. Starr advised she carried the shovel and flashright and David carried Mariah.
The undersigned officer contacted the scene via radio and requested Trooper First Class Waggamon respond with a K-9 handler and a cadaver dog.
The undersigned officer and the above mentioned troopers located an area in the stream which appeared to have been recently tampered with. Upon further investigation, it was determined that Mariah’s body was not present in that area of the stream. The undersigned officer and Corporal Cayton determined the search in this area should be concluded during daylight hours. Search continued using cadaver dogs in this area, but concluded with negative results.
A Foul odor is noticed by troopers standing on front porch.Cadaver dog was used while entering the home the dog “hit” slightly in the storage room of the home.The k-9 handler requested the officers remove items from the room to search. Shortly after, body discovered wrapped in plastic bags under other items. Body determined to be that of reported missing juvenile, Mariah Keigley 14 yo.
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 eachother so they try to take care of eachother. When something painful happens like Mariah’s death-they just want to lean on eachother 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.”