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Police: Sissonville man confesses to Jackson County woman’s murder

Michael Wayne Smith

SISSONVILLE — A Sissonville man was arrested Monday after admitting to murdering a Jackson County woman and putting her body in a water well, law enforcement officials said.

The victim, Cheyenne Johnson of Jackson County, was killed near Kelly’s Creek in Sissonville by Michael Wayne Smith, 41, of Sissonville.

Kanawha County Chief Deputy Greg Young and Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger provided information about the case during a press conference Monday.

Johnson had been deemed a missing person and was last seen in the Cottageville area Thursday, the day the murder happened at a residence Smith frequented, Young said.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation as to Johnson’s whereabouts which led to the Sissonville area, at which time the department contacted Young and the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department.

It was confirmed there was a body in the well and although the body could not be identified when it was retrieved, Young said it was Johnson.

“Of course, we could not tell who that body is. From all circumstantial evidence that we have at this time, it is Miss Johnson,” he said.

The Chief Medical Examiner’s office will determine the cause of death and officially confirm Johnson’s identity.

Smith had previous encounters with law enforcement and Young said Smith had been recently released from jail.

Young said law enforcement is not completely sure of the motive but Mellinger said it seems there might have been some mutual interest between Johnson and Smith.

Kanawha County Emergency Management and United Diving helped with the investigation and Mellinger said it was important for all the agencies to work together.

“We’re a firm believer that everybody has strong suits and individually try to pick out what we do best and go forward with a unified front at that point,” Mellinger said. “We have a lot of different resources and different manpower available but when you have enthusiastic investigators along with resourceful, experienced leadership and when you put them together, it makes for a pretty strong front line to investigate these types of things.”

Smith has been charged with murder and is being held at South Central Regional Jail.

Candice Black can be reached at cblack@newsandsentinel.com.

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