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Police continue Bess investigation

Feb. 08, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- County and city police continue their hunt for clues into the disappearance and death of Diane Bess.

The 21-year-old disappeared following a Christmas Eve shopping trip with a male friend. Her mother filed a missing persons report with police Jan. 1, and a passerby found her body Jan. 17 over the embankment of a roadside dump, approximately 20 to 25 yards off W.Va. 10 south of Doss Hill Road.

Cabell County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Doug Ferguson said detectives have theories, but lack evidence to form a criminal charge. The case remains the subject of joint investigation between his office and that of the Huntington Police Department.

The time and place of her death have been among the unanswered questions. Ferguson urged anyone with information to contact the Sheriff's Office at 304-743-1594 or the Huntington Police tipline at 304-696-4444.

Soon after investigators found Bess' body, they executed search warrants for the male friend's vehicle, his residence and the home of his parents, all in Huntington.

Affidavits used to secure those warrants state Bess left her mother's Guyandotte residence, located in 200 block of Main Street, at approximately noon Christmas Eve with a male friend to go shopping. The man told investigators they visited a Subway and a Walmart, an account confirmed by surveillance video at both locations. They are depicted as leaving the Subway at 3 p.m.

The man told authorities he and Bess then returned to his residence, the affidavits state. He provided differing statements thereafter, once saying she immediately left on foot in an unknown direction and another time estimating they visited for 90 minutes before she left in the same manner about 5 p.m.

Bess' cellphone stopped communicating with area phone towers at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve, according to the affidavits.

Authorities found Bess with no shoes and one sock underneath her body. The affidavits also note an unknown gray/white substance that covered a large portion of the deceased body. They believe it was present prior to her body being discarded.

Ferguson and city police say further testing would be needed to determine whether the powder or a black revolver have any relevance to the investigation. The firearm, a purse and ammunition were collected from one of the searched residences, according to a property receipt filed in the case.

Follow Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD and via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD.

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