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2009 News Releases

Longwood professor among multiple murder victims in Farmville

September 22, 2009

At a press conference held at the Farmville Town Hall this morning, Longwood University received confirmation from officials that the four victims discovered in a Farmville residence on Friday, Sept. 18 have been positively identified by the Medical Examiner's Office. The victims are Farmville residents Dr. Debra S. Kelley, 53, associate professor of sociology at Longwood University, along with her daughter Emma Niederbrock, 16, her husband Mark Alan Niederbrock, 50, and Melanie Wells, a family friend from Inwood, West Virginia.

On Saturday afternoon, police reported that they had arrested a suspect in the case-Richard Samuel Alden McCroskey III, who was apprehended by airport police at the Richmond International Airport. McCroskey was remanded to the custody of the Farmville Police Department and is being held in the Piedmont Regional jail.

The Farmville Police department and Longwood University Police Department first learned of the slayings Friday afternoon, when the bodies were discovered in a Farmville residence at 505 First Avenue. According to police reports, the bodies were decomposed beyond recognition leading to the conclusion that the murders had been committed some time earlier. Given that timeframe and forensic evidence, Longwood University did not activate its emergency alert system, but did notify faculty, staff, and students via e-mail on Friday night. Longwood Chief of Police Robert Beach stated that "the incident did not pose any verifiable or immediate threat to the campus community and the emergency alert system is activated only in the event of an emergency." Additional e-mails and web updates at www.longwood.edu were posted throughout the day on Saturday.

The bodies of the victims were removed from the crime scene by the Medical Examiner's Office on Friday to undergo autopsies to determine the cause of death and to identify the victims. The time of death has not yet been determined and an active police investigation continues.

Dr. Kelley joined Longwood in 1994 and taught courses in sociology and criminal justice studies. Dr. Kelley was on paid educational leave for this academic year. In 2002, she earned the Maude Glenn Raiford Teaching Award. Dr. Kelley earned her bachelor's degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, a master's degree from American University, and a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced and a memorial service is being planned.