Accused Cop Killer Dead
HARRISVILLE - Dennis R. Ferguson, accused of killing a state police trooper, was found dead in his Ritchie County Jail cell Sunday, state police said.
Ferguson, 68, of Ritchie County was found dead by a corrections officer after he apparently hanged himself with pieces of bed sheet in his cell, state police Sgt. Randy Blevins said.
Ferguson had been charged with one count of aggravated murder in the April 8 death of Ritchie County detachment Trooper Larry G. Hacker. Ferguson was awaiting trial scheduled for Oct 25 in Wetzel County Circuit Court Bond had been denied in the case.
Presiding Circuit Court Judge Joseph Troisi ordered the trial moved in June after Ferguson's attorney, Keith White, stated his client would be unable to get a fair trial in Ritchie County.
Ferguson was a World War II veteran who lived alone in the White Oak community. He had been ordered by Troisi to undergo psychiatric evaluations.
Hacker, 34, was ambushed and shot as he and another trooper were investigating a dispute between Ferguson and a neighbor. Police said Ferguson had blocked a road in front of his house and would not allow his neighbor, Jack Langford, to pass. Langford called police. Hacker, a four-year state police veteran, was shot with a high-powered rifle near a shed after he walked onto Ferguson's property, investigators said.
Hacker was flown to Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital after being pulled from the scene by Ritchie County Deputy Sgt. Gary Hissom as Ferguson allegedly attempted to keep other officers pinned down with gunfire. Ferguson briefly exchanged gunfire with police and was apprehended at the scene, investigators said. Hacker died of his wounds at the hospital.
Sgt. L.E. Lanham and Trooper J.D. Ferrebee are investigating Ferguson's apparent suicide.
Blevins said Ferguson's body was transported to the state Medical Examiner's Office in Charleston Sunday for an autopsy.