Three charged in death of social worker
HUNTINGTON -- West Virginia State Police arrested Steven Anthony Foster Jr., 23, Rosemary Forney, 22, and Steven Anthony Foster Sr., 51, in the death of Brenda Lee Yeager, a social worker who went missing in the Mount Union area of Cabell County on Wednesday.
Foster Jr. and Forney are charged with murder, and Foster Sr. is charged with third-degree arson, conspiracy and disposal of a body.
First Sgt. A. L. Cummings said Yeager, 51, of Hamlin was making a home visit to 4293 Mount Union Road, where Foster Jr. and Forney lived with their infant child.
"We're not sure why she was there, but it was a scheduled visit," Cummings said. "We know that."
State Police received a tip Friday morning that a car and a body were being burned in a wooded area behind the residence. When troopers and deputies from the Cabell County Sheriff''s Office arrived, they found the car and body on fire.
"We received information of a burning vehicle and a possible body Friday morning," Cummings said. "And the body was on fire. The body had been set on fire moments before the officers arrived."
Cummings said the body was taken to the state medical examiner's office in Charleston for positive identification, but he said the evidence -- Yeager's car found on fire and the scheduled home visit to the residence -- led them to believe it is Yeager.
So far, investigators have said Yeager was attacked and sexually assaulted by Foster Jr. and Forney. Investigators say the two then killed Yeager, most likely on Wednesday. Cummings said the evidence points to her being killed in the house, although the cause of death has yet to be ruled.
Investigators said the vehicle and Yeager's body were moved to a remote wooded area near the residence. And, early Friday morning, the body and vehicle were being burned by Foster Sr. to destroy evidence.
Cummings said there is no clear motive in the case, and he still isn't sure about the details of Yeager's home visit. Yeager worked at Pro Careers and First Care Services.
Her supervisor, Rose Thompson, said the company handles case management and social work for high-risk pre-natals and infants, along with the elderly population. She said she lost track of Yeager at 1 p.m. Wednesday before her next stop.
Thompson couldn't comment on the casework involving Foster Jr. and Forney. But Yeager's son-in-law Jamie Jones said it's a residence she had been to a few times before. He said his mother-in-law would have lunch or dinner with his wife, Khristina, after the Mount Union visits.
"She checked on women who were pregnant or new mothers who were in need of assistance," Jones said of Yeager's profession.
Thompson said social work continues to be a dangerous field. She said social workers frequently visit situations where drug abuse is involved. She said it affects the clients her employees are supposed to advocate for and protect.
"Things are just getting so bad. I fear for all the social workers' lives and that of the nurses," Thompson said. "Everything you're seeing with the police agencies and those kind of things -- we run into the same kind of things."
Thompson said her employees have never been threatened with violence, but she worries presence of the drug trade could cause them to visit a situation where they're not welcome.
Yeager's 23-year-old daughter, Amy, rushed to the crime scene Friday morning after reports of what police found started filtering out. She struggled to put her emotions into words.
"I've got to live the rest of my life without my mom," she said. "It's mind boggling. ... If anybody needed anything, she was there. They took a loved one from everybody."
The crime scene was located in a secluded area off Mount Union Road, south of Huntington. Access leading to the location was a one-lane, two-tire track, gravel road. Police blocked access to the scene at a private gate.
Jones, Thompson and members of the Hamlin Volunteer Fire Department searched near the crime scene Thursday. They did so at separate times but came away with similar descriptions. Both used the word "creeps." They recalled seeing a residence with pad-locked doors and blankets in the windows.
Jones said no one answered the door at the residence, and he said things just didn't seem right, a feeling he passed on to officials working the case. But neither search party found clues leading to Yeager's whereabouts.
"I found a rundown house with a lot of clutter and mess," Thompson said.
Jones searched the area thinking his mother-in-law possibly had a vehicle accident en route to her next stop. He hoped for the best Friday morning. Since October, his family has buried several family members.
Jones said that Yeager's family and four children, which also includes daughter Julia Prichard and son Joshua Yeager, are having a hard time dealing with the situation. But they all wanted to thank the State Police and Sheriff's Office for such a speedy investigation.
Stacy Napier, 32, lives next to the private drive which led to the crime scene. She did not recall the smell or sight of a fire in recent days. She is a lifelong resident at the address.
"Nothing like this has ever happened," she said. "It's a quiet neighborhood."
Napier saw a firetruck and police arrive Friday morning, but she did not know the reason for their visit. She remembered people searching the area for somebody Thursday.
The Herald-Dispatch welcomes your comments on this article, but please be civil. Avoid profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, accusations of criminal activity, name-calling or insults to the other posters. Herald-dispatch.com does not control or monitor comments as they are posted, but if you find a comment offensive or uncivil, hover your mouse over the comment and click the X that appears in the upper right of the comment. If you do not want your comment to post to your personal Facebook page, uncheck the box below the comment.