The Murder of Jeff Rowland
Born: 25 Apr 1959, Ranson, West Virginia
Died: 14 Nov 2002 (aged 43), Knoxville, Frederick County, Maryland
Burial: Edge Hill Cemetery, Charles Town, Jefferson County, West Virginia
Phone: (304) 725-9331
Dead body discovered; suspect still at large
Susan C. Nicol
The Frederick News-Post | Saturday, November 16, 2002
SANDY HOOK -- A dead man's body was discovered along the C&O towpath Friday morning, but homicide investigators were not ready to release his identity or the identity of a suspect later that evening, according to police.
"The victim was known to the suspect," Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades said. "It's not a case where people have to be afraid of someone running around out there."
A man jogging on the C&O Canal towpath in Sandy Hook discovered the body just before 7:30 Friday morning.
The jogger, who lives in the area, said he first thought the bundle he saw down a slight embankment was a bedroll, police said. After realizing it was a body, he ran to a residency and asked the occupant to call 911, police said.
The victim was face down and appeared to have a head injury, police said.
Shortly thereafter, police said they discovered that a window had been shattered on a blue Dodge minivan with West Virginia tags parked at the end of Keep Tryst Road, not far from where the body was found.
Two evidence collection technicians from Hagerstown Police Department, Jeff Kercheval and Susan Blankenship, were called to the scene to assist. They took photographs and measurements.
Mr. Kercheval also dusted the passenger side of the van for fingerprints. He said they will be checked to see if they belong to anyone other than the victim.
The van was towed from the scene, and deputies said they were going to obtain a search warrant from a District Court judge to search the vehicle further.
According to police, local residents said they often saw the van at the location, which they say is a notorious spot for gay solicitation.
Nancy Nicolosi, who lives near the towpath, said the minivan discovered along with the body is one of the suspicious vehicles that frequents the secluded part of Sandy Hook.
The van, she said, had been coming into her neighborhood for about a decade. Ms. Nicolosi said that it once followed her son down the road.
Ms. Nicolosi said she's written letters to authorities urging them to stop the illicit activities, but so far law enforcement efforts have had little success.
National Park Service rangers blocked off a section of the towpath, a popular spot for hikers and bikers, while investigators combed the area for clues.
"I'm uncomfortable driving down there," said Jim Downing, also of Keep Tryst Road. "There are guys sitting down there waiting for other guys to pull up."
Mr. Downing said the presence of undesirable characters along the towpath has curtailed his use of the National Park.
He also said that a nearby parking lot for the Appalachian Trail in Weverton is also an all-male pick-up area.
Although the body was found on National Park Service property, rangers asked the Washington County Sheriff's Office to be the lead investigators.
Police release identity of slain man
The Frederick News-Post | Sunday, November 17, 2002
SANDY HOOK -- A man found along the C&O towpath Friday died of a gunshot wound to the neck, according to authorities, and homicide investigators were still working on the case Saturday.
The body of Jeffrey L. Rowland, 43, of the 800 block of Belvedere Heights in Charles Town, W.Va., was discovered on National Park Service property by a jogger shortly before 7:30 a.m.
The victim is believed to have been shot between 4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday morning, according to Deputy Greg Alton of the Washington County Sheriff's Department. As of Saturday, investigators had not established a motive, he said.
Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades said deputies were looking for two different people who may have been involved in the murder, one of whom is a suspect.
Deputy Alton said it's too soon to say whether there are any concrete suspects, but that investigators had questioned friends and family of the victim and were pursuing leads.
Mr. Rowland was a fourth-grade teacher at Wright-Denny Elementary School in Charles Town for 22 years, and was secretary for the school's faculty senate.
He was a graduate of Shepherd College in Shepherdstown W.Va., an avid bowler, and a former Weight Watchers instructor.
Mr. Rowland was a member of Asbury United Methodist Church in Charles Town, where his funeral will be held on Tuesday at 11 a.m.
A blue Dodge minivan with West Virginia plates and a shattered window was discovered near the body at the end of Keep Tryst Road. Deputy Alton said it is believed the victim was shot outside of the vehicle.
Neighborhood residents said the van was often seen in the area of the park which, they assert, is a notorious spot for gay solicitation.
Sheriff Mades would not comment as to whether the investigation was examining illicit activities in the area of the murder.
He said the Maryland State Police had tried to reduce sexual activity in the area several years ago, but he didn't know of any operations by the sheriff's office to do the same.
METRO - In Brief
The Washington Post | Sunday, November 17, 2002 at 7:00 p.m. EST
Robbery Likely Motive in Teacher's Death
Officials in two states are investigating how the body of a fourth-grade teacher from Charles Town, W.Va., wound up near the Potomac River.
The body of Jeffrey Lewis Rowland, 43, was found Friday on a path near a lock at the C&O Canal in Knoxville, Md., just across the river from Harpers Ferry, W.Va., said investigator Greg Alton of the Washington County (Md.) Sheriff's Department.
Rowland, who taught at Wright Denny Intermediate School in Charles Town, died of a gunshot wound to the neck, officers said.
Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office in West Virginia said "there is a very good indication" that robbery might have been the motive for the shooting. He said Rowland's wallet and identification were missing.
Police Putting Murder Puzzle Pieces Together | Local Services Held for Slain Teacher Jeff Rowland
Spirit of Jefferson Farmer's Advocate | Thursday, November 21, 2002
Law enforcement authorities in Jefferson County and Washington County, Md., were trying to piece together the puzzle that resulted in the murder of Jeffrey L. Rowland, a fourth grade teacher at Wright Denny Intermediate School in Charles Town.
Rowland, 43, of 810 Belvedere Heights, Charles Town, was apparently shot to death some time between last Thursday and Friday. His body was discovered by a jogger Friday morning at the Weverton access of the C&O Canal Towpath near the parking area at the end of Keep Tryst Road near Sandy Hook, Md.
Investigators have "been putting facts together," Sheriff Boober told The Spirit Tuesday afternoon.
“Both our department and the Washington County Sheriff's Department have been conducting interviews and thoroughly searching records in order to shed new light on what happened," Boober emphasized.
Boober said the two investigating agencies have yet to meet in person to compare facts, but have been talking by telephone several times a day.
"There's a lot going on here and we have to be thorough in what we are looking for," the sheriff said.
Earlier reports indicated that a suspect in the murder was being sought, but have since indicated that the individual is primarily a material witness. The person being sought was a close friend of Rowland's.
Boober noted that the individual being sought disappeared after Rowland was shot to death on Thursday night.
Rowland was last seen alive Thursday shortly after 6 p.m. at a 7-Eleven on Route 340 at Jefferson Avenue. A witness who saw Rowland believed he was waiting for someone at the convenience store. Deputies are trying to determine Rowland's movements between the time he left school last Thursday at 4:30 p.m. and the time he was killed later that night.
The most likely motive for the murder at this point, according to investigators, is robbery. Boober said the victim's wallet was missing from the scene.
Members of the Washington County Sheriffs Department re-visited the scene where the body was found Monday and collected additional evidence.
Rowland, who taught school at Wright Denny Intermediate for 22 years, was the caregiver for his parents, Francis J. and Violet Ballenger Rowland.
Obituary | JEFFREY L. ROWLAND
Spirit of Jefferson Farmer's Advocate | Thursday, November 21, 2002
Jeffrey Lewis Rowland, 43, of 810 Belvedere Heights, Charles Town, died Thursday, November 14, in Knoxville, Md.
Born April 25, 1959, in Ranson, he was the son of and caregiver for Francis J. and Violet Ballenger Rowland of Charles Town.
He was a graduate of Shepherd College.
He was a fourth-grade teacher at Wright Denny Elementary School for 22 years. Formerly, he was employed by the Cliffside Inn.
He was a member and former choir member of Asbury United Methodist Church.
He was a member of the West Virginia Education Association.
He was a member of Friday Night Bowling League at Shenandoah Lanes.
He was the secretary for Wright Denny Faculty Senate and a former instructor for Weight Watchers in Charles Town.
In addition to his parents, he is survived by a sister, Faye Rodgers, Bolivar; and two nephews.
Services were held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Asbury United Methodist Church. The Rev. Richard W. Simpson officiated.
Burial was in Edge Hill Cemetery.
Eackles-Spencer Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Memorial donations may be made to Asbury United Methodist Church, 110 W. North St., Charles Town, WV 25414.
Body of W.Va. teacher found near Potomac
Associate Press | Monday, November 18, 2002
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Officials in two states are investigating after the body of a fourth-grade teacher from Charles Town, W.Va., was discovered near the Potomac River on Friday.
The body of Jeffrey Lewis Rowland, 43, was found on a path near a lock at the C&0 Canal in Knoxville, just across the river from Harpers Ferry, W.Va., said Investigator Greg Alton of the Washington County Sheriff's Department.
Rowland, who taught at Wright Denny Intermediate School in Charles Town, died of a gunshot wound to the neck, officers said Sheriff Ed Boober of Jefferson County, W. Va., said “there is a very goof indication” that robbery may have been the motive for the shooting, noting that Rowland's wallet and identification were missing.
Family members reported Rowland missing after the "very regimented" man failed to return home after school Thursday. Rowland lived with his parents and was their caregiver, Boober said.
Boober said the last murder in Jefferson County happened in the early 1990s.
Student Government Busy
Spirit of Jefferson Farmer's Advocate | Thursday, May 1, 2003
The Student Government at Wright Denny school has been busy with several service projects this year.
The students organized a toy and food drive during the holiday season, collecting nearly 40 toys for Forgotten Children and 1,400 pounds of food for Community Ministries. During Spirit Week in January, chains were sold and nearly $300 was raised for the Jeffrey Rowland Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Most recently, Student Government organized Operation Shoebox, a drive to collect items to fill shoeboxes for military men and women serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Nearly 40 shoeboxes were filled and transported by the National Guard. During the week, students collected items, and a bulletin board in the front hallway was the spot where students hung yellow ribbons.
Student Government officers include David Scott, president; Brandon Truitt, vice president; Misti Darlington, secretary; and Katie Dicken, treasurer. Two students represent each homeroom and sponsors are Mrs. Debra Payne and Mrs. Penny Manion.
Letters to the Editor | Response to Comments
Spirit of Jefferson Farmer's Advocate | Thursday, February 21, 2008
I am responding to recent comments concerning the investigation into the death of Mr. Jeffrey Rowland, a teacher at Wright Denny Elementary School in Jefferson County.
During the early evening hours of Thursday, November 14, 2002, Mr. Jeffrey Rowland's life was unlawfully and violently taken by unknown assailant(s) in an area known as Sandy Hook in Washington County, Maryland. Earlier that same evening, Mr. Rowland was observed sitting in his van which was parked in front of a 7-11 convenience store located at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Route 9 (currently Route 115) in Jefferson County, West Virginia.
Although the Washington County, Md. Sheriff's Office remains the primary investigative agency in this crime, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office continues its assistance in law enforcement attempts in solving Mr. Rowland's murder.
Our respective law enforcement agencies have expended a great deal of investigative time, effort and resources in our attempts to solve this most heinous of crimes. To date, our departments continue to actively pursue any and all potential leads, information and evidence afforded to us.
As your sheriff, I am extremely disappointed in the lack of community forthcoming and involvement in this matter. I have no doubt that there are citizens within our communities who have critical information that would be useful in bringing those criminals to justice, who were responsible for the unlawful taking of Mr. Rowland's life.
I would urge anyone having any information concerning Mr. Rowland's death to contact the Washington County, Md. Sheriff’s Office at (240) 313-2121 or the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office at (304) 728-3205 or (304) 725-8484. Confidentiality in this matter can be established with whomever wishes to remain anonymous.
Everett "Ed" Boober
Sheriff & Treasurer