Clintwood, Va. man pleads guilty to murder charges

A Clintwood, Virginia man who recently pleaded guilty will be sentenced in the murder of his live-in girlfriend who was found buried at their home earlier this year.

Charles Walter Reed, 53, pleaded guilty in Dickenson County Circuit Court to charges of second-degree murder, strangulation and disposing of a dead body in order to conceal a crime. Reed was charged in March in the death of 40-year-old Crystal Gail Stanley

Reed faces a possible 50-year sentence, according to Dickenson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Seth Baker. As part of his plea, Baker said Reed acknowledged that he forfeited his right to appeal his conviction to a higher court.

The Sheriff’s Office received information on March 2 of a possible homicide at Reed’s home on state Route 72 in Clintwood. Deputies and special agents from the Virginia State Police responded to the scene and found a freshly disturbed area of dirt in the mobile home’s front yard.

After obtaining a search warrant for Reed’s home, officers discovered Stanley’s body buried under approximately 6 inches of dirt, police said. A subsequent autopsy determined Stanley died from strangulation.

When questioned by police, Reed confessed to killing Stanley by strangling her, first with his hands, then with a belt, Baker said. At the time of the murder, Reed’s blood alcohol level was approximately 0.34 percent, over 4 times the legal limit of .08 percent, Baker added.

Baker said he has remained in close contact with Stanley’s family throughout the prosecution and has consulted with them before making any decisions in the case.

“Charles took Crystal away from the people who loved her,” Baker said. “I know that nothing we do can ever bring Crystal back, but I do hope this brings the family a sense of closure and assists in the healing process.”

Sentencing for Reed, who remains held without bail at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Haysi, is scheduled for Jan. 4, 2018 in Dickenson County Circuit Court.

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