Three charged following murder

POMEROY, Ohio – One man has been jailed for murder and two others are charged as accomplices after a Pomeroy man was found dead in a Meigs County motel, officials said on Thursday.

The Meigs County Sheriff’s Department arrested 32-year-old Ryan A. Cozart of Racine, Ohio, Thursday following the discovery of Wallace R. Chafin’s body at the Meigs Motel on Laurel Woods Road.

Sheriff Craig Wood said the 57-year-old Chafin of Pomeroy was found dead in a motel room after officers responded to a disturbance call shortly after midnight.

“Officers found evidence of an altercation,” Wood said. “There was quite a disturbance in the room that was overheard by the people next door.”

Cozart is charged with murder. Ariel Smith, 22, and Sara Craig, 32, both of Portland, Ohio, were also arrested and charged with complicity to commit murder.

Some news outlets reported Chafin had been assaulted and stabbed. Wood declined to confirm that.

He said investigators have “a pretty good idea” as to how Chafin died but are not ready to release that information until the autopsy is complete.

“We are ruling it a homicide, so that will tell you it wasn’t natural,” he said.

Wood said the investigation is a joint effort with officials from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification. Chafin’s body has been sent for an autopsy.

Wood said investigators were at the scene when Cozart and Craig returned to the hotel in Chafin’s car around 1:50 a.m. when they were arrested. Investigators picked up Smith at a house in Portland, Ohio, later that morning.

Detectives report Chafin knew the trio, but officials are not disclosing a possible motive. Wood said Chafin was a registered sex offender. And he confirmed previous drug and criminal charges against Cozart and Craig.

Craig was on house arrest stemming from meth charges earlier this year in Meigs County. Investigators said Craig severed the house arrest bracelet at her home.

In 2007, Cozart was arrested in Washington County on drug possession charges. In 2008, he was arrested and arraigned on an aggravated robbery charge. He was accused of robbing a convenience store while brandishing a knife. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to attempted tampering with evidence.

Cozart also is identified as the lead singer and guitarist for hard rock metal band Into the Further.

Craig and Cozart are being held on parole violations, pending their arraignment on charges surrounding Chafin’s death. Smith has been processed on the complicity to commit murder charges. Additional charges for the trio could follow.

“We have speculations,” Wood said. “There’s more to the story as we are piecing it together that could escalate the charges.”