West Virginia corrections officer held in beating deaths of wife, stepdaughter

Monday, October 23rd 2006, 9:26 pm
By: News On 6

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) _ A state corrections officer is suspected of beating his wife and stepdaughter to death shortly before he apparently jumped off a bridge in a suicide attempt, state police said.

Stanley Pierson, 38, was in stable condition Monday at a Charleston hospital, said State Police Cpl. J.D. Perry at a news conference. He was found in his uniform on a riverbank late Sunday and was taken to the hospital in handcuffs, officials said.

Pierson's wife may have been pregnant, officials said.

State police are working with prosecutors to determine how to charge Pierson in the bludgeoning deaths of his 39-year-old wife, Lisa, and her daughter, Casey Barker, 20, at their home near Malden, five miles southeast of Charleston.

He is cooperating with troopers, Perry said. Police said they could not speculate on a motive.

The charges may depend on the outcome of an autopsy. Neighbors told investigators that Lisa Pierson was pregnant, state police Sgt. J.C. Lee said.

If she was, Pierson could be charged under the 2005 Unborn Victims Act, which says an embryo or fetus is considered a victim, separate from the mother, in cases of murder, voluntary manslaughter, battery and domestic assault.

It was unclear Monday whether Pierson had a lawyer.

State police believe the incident occurred between the time Pierson left work at 6 a.m. Sunday and when his vehicle was reported parked on a bridge on the West Virginia Turnpike about 11 a.m.

Lisa Pierson was still alive when a relative found her shortly after noon, but she died on the way to the hospital, officials said. Her daughter was dead at the scene.

A large hand tool believed to be the weapon was recovered from the house, authorities said.

Fearing Pierson jumped off the bridge, authorities searched the Kanawha River Sunday, finding him in his uniform on the river bank downstream about 11 p.m.

Pierson has been a correctional officer at the Charleston Work Release Center for seven years. Before that, he worked three years at Mount Olive, a maximum-security state prison, said Joe Thornton, a spokesman for the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

Thornton described Pierson as a model employee. He was cited for his ``excellent interpersonal skills'' in being named employee of the quarter in the Division of Corrections newsletter in May.