Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575
Man sought in probe of woman's death
Man wanted on warrant of larceny of motor vehicle
Henry County Sheriff’s Office vehicles sit outside the home of Joyce Daily Mitchell on Tuesday in Ridgeway. Mitchell was found dead there Monday afternoon, and sheriff’s deputies are investigating the case as a homicide. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The man wanted for questioning in connection with the death of a Ridgeway resident allegedly was seen driving the victim’s car, police said.
“We do have an incident where he was seen driving the vehicle, and we are asking the public to help us find him,” Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry said Tuesday.
Arthur Gene McClard, 37, is wanted on an outstanding warrant of larceny of a motor vehicle, Perry said.
Joyce Daily Mitchell, 74, was found dead Monday in her home at 270 King Air Ave., Ridgeway.
Perry said her remains were recovered from inside the home and taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Roanoke for an autopsy.
“We have not gotten the preliminary report yet,” Perry said.
Mitchell was last seen around 4 p.m. Sunday, roughly 24 hours before her body — and her vehicle — were found, Perry said.
Authorities found Mitchell after responding to calls from neighbors and family concerned for her well-being, according to previous reports.
Mitchell’s 1998 maroon 4-door Chrysler Concorde also was found Monday. It had been abandoned on the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 124, authorities have said.
The vehicle had not been reported stolen, police have said.
“It didn’t look like it had been involved in an accident but had been run over a bank in an attempt to conceal its presence or get it out of observation,” Perry said. He did not know if the vehicle had fuel in it.
Two people “just happened to see it, and called the park rangers. The rangers came out and recovered it and had it towed” to a site in Roanoke, Perry said.
When last seen, McClard was on foot in the Southeast neighborhood of Roanoke, authorities said.
“He basically is believed to live in the Southeast neighborhood of Roanoke, but he does not have a fixed address,” Perry said. “Basically, he is believed to be somewhat homeless.”
Out of safety concerns, some neighbors declined to comment publicly.
One man, who said he is a life-long resident of the community, recalled seeing Mitchell occasionally and talking to her — mainly about her dog.
“I think it ran away about a month ago, maybe two,” the neighbor said, and added that he and a friend found the canine in the woods.
It was dead, he said. “We didn’t have the heart to tell her.”
The neighbor also said he knows McClard, who is known by many in the neighborhood as “Mark.”
McClard used to mow Mitchell’s yard, and he helped with other chores after her husband, Richard Mitchell Jr., died in 2010, according to the man and previous reports. Mitchell paid McClard for helping her.
“Usually, you’d see him outside every day. He ain’t been out in a couple of days,” the man said. “All I know is he’s been going around the last couple weeks trying to sell stuff” like a yard trimmer, tool set and guitar.
Crime scene investigators with the Henry County Sheriff’s Office worked late into the night Monday and returned to the scene early Tuesday to finish collecting evidence.
They remained inside at midday. Interior lights were visible throughout Mitchell’s tan and blue mobile home. A partial picket fence encompassed a portion of the backyard where two storage buildings are located.
A small grave in the front yard of the home has an archway, a dog statue and a headstone that reads, in part: In memory of ... Jake.
Verlie Rowland, another neighbor, said the mobile home park generally is quiet.
“There’s no trouble, no nothing. Everybody stays to theirselves,” she said.
According to court records in Henry County, McClard pleaded guilty to two counts of grand larceny in 2003.
Perry asked anyone with any information about the incident or McClard’s whereabouts to call authorities immediately.
In Henry County, call 638-8751 or Crime Stoppers at 63- CRIME (632-7463).
Rewards up to $1,000 are available through the Crime Stoppers Program for information related to crimes. The amount of any reward is determined by the nature of the crime and the substance of the information provided.