PRICHARD, W.Va. — A Prichard man told Wayne County police he doesn’t remember what killed his wife before he woke up on his kitchen floor last month to find her dead, then placed her in the trunk of a car in a panic.
Donald Ray Herald Sr., 58, of Prichard, was charged Wednesday with concealment of a deceased human body and first-degree murder. He is housed at Western Regional Jail in Barboursville.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Wayne County Magistrate Court by Wayne County Sheriff Deputy Rodney Endicott, while following up on a missing persons case, members of the sheriff’s department responded Wednesday to Herald’s home at 635 Centerville Road in Prichard.
On Tuesday, police received a call from the victim’s niece, who said she hadn’t heard from her aunt, Marcella Herald, since Sept. 11. The caller told police she believed the woman’s husband, Donald, had done something bad.
At the Centerville Road home, Endicott did not find Marcella or Donald Herald, but noted an odor. A search warrant was obtained and Endicott returned to the scene, along with animal control, on the belief several dogs were inside the home, the criminal complaint said.
Once inside, deputies said the house was empty and appeared to be clean. One dog was taken by animal control. However, the foul odor was detected again after police cleared and left the house.
The reporting deputy wrote that he noticed a silver Pontiac GTO in the backyard with its back passenger door ajar. Inside the car, he said the odor of decomposition got stronger, leading him to the trunk, where he found a brown bag containing an unidentifiable, decomposed body.
The State Police Crime Scene Unit and other backup was called in and the scene was secured for forensic investigation.
While Endicott and others were searching for Donald Herald, he drove onto his property but then left, heading toward U.S. 52. He was later found at his cousin’s home along Rice Avenue in Prichard, where he was taken into custody, the criminal complaint said.
While interviewing Herald, Endicott wrote that the man told officers he and his wife argued over an affair he believed she was having with another man, which he believed started about a month prior. Herald told police a fight between them started, which resulted in him punching her behind her rib cage, the criminal complaint said.
He said he only remembers waking up the next morning on the kitchen floor with his wife, who was not breathing. Her body was left in the home for a few days before Herald moved it to the trunk of the car, he told police, because he was scared and didn’t know what else to do.
Endicott will appear for a preliminary hearing next week.