A Henry County grand jury on Monday indicted a man and a woman from Martinsville on separate charges of abuse/neglect of an incapacitated adult that the indictment says led to the death of the man’s father.
Stephen Ihrig died on or about April 12, and the grand jury indicted Jeffrey Louis Ihrig, 49, and Crystal Rae Painter, 41, each on charges relating to his death.
Court records list Jeffrey Ihrig, Stephen Ihrig’s son, and Painter’s address as 85 Lancer Lane, Martinsville, which had been Stephen Ihrig’s address as well.
Ihrig and Painter were arrested Wednesday by the Henry County Sheriff’s Office and are being held without bail, but the direct indictment provides scant details about the case. And the sheriff’s office has not released the arrest report and other information that has been requested by the Martinsville Bulletin.
This much is known about the death of Stephen Ihrig, who was 77 at the time: Tracie Cooper, administrator of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Roanoke, said the cause of death is dehydration, chronic malnutrition and acute bilateral bronchopneumonia.
“It looks like he had pneumonia in both lungs,” she said, and the cause of death was ruled as natural.
Henry County Commonwealth’s Attorney Andrew Nester said late Thursday afternoon that Jeffrey Ihrig is the son of Stephen Ihrig and that, at the time of the alleged crimes, Jeffrey Ihrig and Painter were in a “dating relationship.”
“It is my understanding that since the alleged crime they are now married,” he said. “At the date of the offense Stephen was 77 years old. It is my understanding that all three individuals were living at the Lancer Lane address at the time these crimes were alleged to have occurred.
“Lastly, the Commonwealth does believe that Jeffrey and Crystal were the responsible parties for the care of Stephen.”
The indictments contain virtually identical language, alleging that each defendant was “a responsible person who abused or neglected Stephen Ihrig, an incapacitated adult, and such abuse or neglect resulted in the death of such incapacitated adult.”
A bail determination list for Jeffrey Ihrig indicates he has been in the community four years and was in Pulaski before that. It says he has been employed at Blue Ridge Beverage for 19 months, and it lists no family ties. It lists financial resources as “self” and says he is not currently on probation or parole.
A bail determination list for Painter lists her length of time in the community as five years in November. It lists her place of employment as Strengthening Our Systems, for six years. It says her children are here, her mother is in Ohio, and her father is in North Carolina. It says she is a high school graduate. It lists her financial resources as “self.” It says she is not currently on probation or parole.
According to court records, if Jeffrey Ihrig and Painter are not released on bail, they will have a hearing in Henry County Circuit Court on Wednesday. If they do get bail, the next hearing would be Oct. 11.
Lt. T.S. Barker of the Henry County Sheriff’s Office wrote in an email Wednesday that investigators were working the case and that the couple had not been arrested. It’s not clear when that status changed. He said he would “check about releasing the actual report once it is closed by arrest.”
On Thursday, after the pair had been arrested, Barker provided photos of Painter and Ihrig and wrote that “the case is still under investigation, so the other paperwork we cannot provide at this time.”
Later Thursday Barker said he would review the case Friday with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and provide the information that he can while maintaining the integrity of the case.
Henry County Attorney George Lyle, who also represents the Henry-Martinsville Department of Social Services, wrote in an email that the department “has a limited civil role in investigating incapacitated adult matters like the one you referenced. Any criminal investigations are handled by the sheriff’s office.”
He said privacy laws prohibited him from providing additional information.
Paul Collins is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801, ext. 236.