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Huntington case of concealed OD death advances

Herald-Dispatch photo by Courtney Hessler Alfreda Coleman Jewell Steele, 47, of Huntington, appears in Cabell County Magistrate Court for an evidentiary hearing after a deceased body was allegedly found concealed in her hotel room.
Herald-Dispatch photo by Courtney Hessler
Alfreda Coleman Jewell Steele, 47, of Huntington, appears in Cabell County Magistrate Court for an evidentiary hearing after a deceased body was allegedly found concealed in her hotel room.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A Huntington woman charged with concealing a deceased body in her motel room will await a review of her case by a Cabell County grand jury after a Cabell magistrate found probable cause for the case to move forward.

Alfreda Coleman Jewell Steele, 47, was charged on Aug. 31 with concealment of a dead human body after Huntington police found the body of Bobby Eugene Mitchell, 34, of Huntington, wrapped in a blanket at the Coach’s Inn Motel in Huntington’s West End.

Cabell County Magistrate Rondall Baumgardner found enough evidence for the charges to move forward Thursday.

 In a hearing, Huntington Police Detective Chris Sperry said Huntington police officers found Mitchell at a room at the Coach’s Inn Motel in Huntington’s West End after a man in a neighboring room complained to 911 dispatchers about a smell and flies coming from an air conditioning unit near him.

According to the criminal complaint, Steele fled from the Coach’s Inn after crews from the Huntington Fire Department arrived.

Sperry said it was not difficult to find Steele rented the room, and after locating the defendant, she agreed to speak with police. Steele was not read her rights, Sperry said, because she was not under arrest at the time.

“They had been partying for a couple days. She said they went and got some heroin at (West 10th Street),” he said.

“She injected him with the heroin. She said all three of them passed out. She said a couple hours later, she came to, () went to wake Bobby Mitchell up and she determined he was deceased.”

Although Steel told Sperry she had injected 25 cubic centimeters into Mitchell, Sperry said he believes the amount to be closer to .25 cc.

Steele then said she attempted CPR, but could not revive him, according to the criminal complaint. She then allegedly wrapped Mitchell’s body in a comforter. She lived with the body in her room for days before it was discovered.

Sperry said there was a history of 911 calls to Steele’s room and she said she panicked when she found Mitchell had died.

“She didn’t know what to do because the police had been in her apartment before when her boyfriend had overdosed,” she said.

“So she didn’t want the police to come back because she thought she would get in trouble.”

After a preliminary determination that Mitchell did die of an overdose, Sperry said Steele was taken into custody on Aug. 31. Sperry said the death likely occurred three to four days prior to her arrest.

 Defense Attorney Robert Kuenzel questioned if drug paraphernalia, including syringes, found in the room had been tested to indicate if the drug had been mixed with anything in comparison to a batch of heroin that led to 27 overdoses and possibly two deaths on Aug. 15 in Huntington.

Sperry said the items found were still undergoing testing, along with toxicology testing on Mitchell’s body.

Kuenzel also argued Steele could not have concealed the body because it was in an open room that was easily accessible.

West Virginia state law says a defense to the crime could be if “the defendant affirmatively brought to the attention of law enforcement within 48 hours of concealing the body and prior to being contacted regarding the death by law enforcement the existence and location of the concealed deceased human body.”

A reduction of bond was not granted and Steele will remain jailed.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.

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