CHARLESTON, W.Va. — On Sunday morning, Ben Hatfield’s face was smiling up from the newspaper page. Decked out in black-tie attire, Hatfield was featured on the society page in a collection of photos from last month’s Charleston Area Medical Center Foundation Gala, which he attended with Kim Stitzinger, a local lawyer he was dating.
By sometime Sunday afternoon, Hatfield, a prominent coal industry executive, had been shot dead. His body was found at a cemetery outside Williamson, where his late wife is buried.
As questions swirled about the circumstances of Hatfield’s death, all manner of players in the coal industry — company officials, lawyers, lobbyists, union officials and environmentalists — were in shock. Friends and former co-workers offered no clues about what possibly could have led to Hatfield’s slaying.
“It’s just absolutely unbelievable,” said Bill Raney, the longtime president of the West Virginia Coal Association. “I never heard anybody say anything bad about him. He was a true Southern gentleman…