TANEYTOWN, Md. (WJZ) — Three Carroll County men are charged with murder after police found the body of a Taneytown man set on fire in West Virginia, the Jefferson County, West Virginia Sheriff’s Office reports.
John Black III, Monroe Merrell and David Sanford, Jr., are all charged in the death of 33-year-old Jonathan Riddle.
According to the sheriff’s office, Riddle’s body was found burning near the woods in an extremely rural area of Rippon, West Virginia, by a passerby around 7:35 a.m. on the morning of March 18. Rippon is about 30 miles southwest of Frederick.
Police believe that Riddle was alive when he was taken to the rural area. A medical examiner determined Riddle died from multiple stab wounds and blows to the head, court documents show. A large pool of blood was found in the roadway, with a trail of blood leading to the body. However, no vehicles or cell phones were found in the area.
A Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Holz learned a 2015 Chevrolet Malibu with Maryland plates 9BY0804 may be linked to the crime. That car was later located outside a Westminster home. Sgt. Holz spoke with 22-year-old Merrell at the residence when the car was being seized. According to the charging documents, Merrell seemed nervous and Holz saw a small cut on his right hand.
Police found a bloodstain on the passenger door.
According to court documents, Riddle went to Sanford’s apartment on March 17 to allegedly meet Heather Grogg who was staying there.
It was there the victim reportedly got into an argument with Merrell. Police learned Riddle was stabbed twice inside the home by Sanford before his hands and feet were bound. Riddle was then taken to West Virginia, where he was allegedly stabbed again and set on fire.
An informant told police that both Merrell and Sanford allegedly stabbed the victim multiple times.
Sanford was charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping on April 9. Merrell was arrested in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He has not waived extradition and we are advised that his next court date is scheduled for May 18th.
That same informant told police Black was there and helped take Riddle to West Virginia where he too allegedly stabbed the victim. He was also charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping. Black was arrested on April 15 in Taneytown, Maryland.
On April 24, the sheriff’s office arrested a fourth person, Emily Rose Day, in Westminster. Day is being charged as an accessory before and after the fact in Riddle’s murder. She is currently being held in Maryland awaiting a court appearance to determine if she will waive extradition to West Virginia.
The FBI and Maryland State Police are trying to find two missing women they believe have ties to Sanford and Merrell. Eighteen-year-old Danielle Tyler and 33-year-old Heather Grogg could be traveling together and are “in danger.” They were last seen in Carroll County on April 6.
Tyler is 5-foot-3 and 110 pounds with blonde hair and green eyes. She has snake bite piercings on either side of her lower lip and a small nose ring in both sides of her nose.
Grogg is 5-foot-2 and 175 pounds with red or blonde hair with blue eyes. She has a lip piercing below her lower right lip.
Riddle is survived by his wife Diana, his stepchildren and parents.
“This investigation is not over and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in coordination with other law enforcement agencies continues to follow leads in this case,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Pete Dougherty.
This post was updated on April 27, 2020.