MAHER, W. Va. – The body of a man found shot to death at a cemetery in Mingo County was identified late Monday evening as coal executive Ben Hatfield.
An arrest has been made in connection with the shooting. A 20-year old man identified as Anthony Arriaga was found at a home in Delphos, Ohio located in Allen County. He was arrested by the Allen County Sheriff’s Department around 2:00 a.m. Tuesday morning according to Mingo County Sheriff James Smith.
Smith said at this time there is no motive for the murder.
Deputies and state troopers were back at the scene on Tuesday morning with K-9 units looking for a possible murder weapon. A handgun was found early Tuesday afternoon, according to Sheriff Smith. It is believed to be the murder weapon, but forensic tests will have to be done to confirm. The cemetery is located about 12 miles north of Williamson squeezed between the Tug River and U.S. 52. There are several wooded areas along the riverbank on one side of the cemetery.
After allegedly shooting Hatfield, Arriaga went over the river bank and removed his clothing. He then went a few hundred yards down river and went up into the yard of a nearby residence just north of the cemetery, according to Sheriff Smith. From that point he told the resident he had fallen in the river and if he could get some clothes, he would pay them for a ride to Wayne County, W.Va.
“Once he heard what was going on, he let us know he gave this subject a ride to Wayne County,” Smith said. The sheriff said law enforcement were puzzled until the resident stepped forward to report the suspect.
From Wayne, W.Va. Arriaga apparently got another ride back to his home in Ohio. He allegedly had told acquaintances in Wayne that he had shot a man and needed to go home. Arriaga is being held in Allen County, Ohio and the MCSD is waiting for an extradition procedure before transporting the suspect back to Mingo County for his arraignment.
Hatfield, who was from the Matewan area, had been living in Kanawha County the past few years. He was a former official for Massey Coal, Patriot Coal and International Coal Group.
Hatfield’s body was found early Monday around 6:30 a.m. and was believed to have been dead about 12 hours. The case is being investigated as a murder by the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD) and they are being assisted by the West Virginia State Police (WVSP).
Reportedly, Hatfield had driven down to the cemetery owned by Mountain View Memory Gardens to visit the grave sites of his late wife Debbie and in-laws on Sunday afternoon.
Smith said that Hatfield’s girlfriend had reported him missing after he didn’t return for the weekend. Smith says authorities traced his cellphone to a local cemetery in Maher, where his body was found.
Hatfield was named last June to the board of coal producer Foresight Energy. Hatfield resigned in April 2015 as president and CEO of Patriot Coal. He was International Coal Group’s CEO when a 2006 explosion in northern West Virginia killed 12 miners. During that time, many remember Hatfield appearing bravely on national TV networks during the time of that mine tragedy.
(Kyle Lovern is the Managing Editor for the Civitas Media Mountain District including the Williamson Daily News and Logan Banner. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)