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Lester a suspect in Ky. homicide

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A source close to the investigation of the 2003 Kanawha County sniper-style slayings confirmed last week that Shawn Thomas Lester, the man believed to be responsible for the three homicides, is also suspected in the death of a fourth man who reportedly had inside knowledge of the crime.

Timothy Wayne Sigman, 33, whose remains were found buried under the porch of a home in Willard, Ky., was close friends with Lester and lived with him around the time of the shootings in 2003, according to Bobby Walker, the brother in law of Jeanie Patton, who was the second of the three victims.

Walker said that Sigman and Lester, whom he had hired to do mechanical work for his used car business, were heavily involved in a multimillion-dollar cross-state drug ring owned by members of the Mexican mafia. Sigman also played a part in the sniper slayings, Walker said, but his exact role in the crime remains unclear.

"They were best friends," Walker told the Gazette. "They lived together, they breathed together; they pulled this off together."

On Friday, a Kanawha County judge sentenced Lester to 40 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in late July to second-degree murder charges linked to the death of Patton.

As part of the plea, he was not required to admit to the murders of Gary Carrier Jr., and Okey Meadows Jr., who were killed outside of separate gas stations on different days by a .22 Magnum Marlin rifle.

Prosecutors say Lester killed Patton in retaliation for the theft of an engine block that was packed with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of rare pink methamphetamine and hidden in Lester's Rutledge Road car garage.

Walker's brother, Marty, was married to Patton and was reportedly responsible for the theft of the drug-laden engine. When Lester and Sigman found out, they vowed to take revenge by killing Patton, Bobby Walker said.

"They told me they were going to kill Jeanie for [the theft of] the motor," he said. Walker knew that Lester and Sigman were angry about the theft of the motor, but did not think they were serious about killing anyone. He didn't put two and two together until after Patton was murdered.

Walker said that because they were his employees, and because his brother was friends with the duo, he interacted with Lester and Sigman regularly. In early 2003, Lester and Sigman stopped working for Walker, and rented a car garage on Rutledge road across from Walker's used car lot.

Walker had no idea that they were using the garage as a front to a drug operation. He moved away from the area in 2004.

In January 2007, Randal Sigman appeared as a guest on an episode of the crime-solving show "West Virginia's Most Wanted" to discuss a theory that the show's host, Andrew Palmer, had formulated about his missing son, Timmy.

During the episode, Sigman said he believed his son was a member of a "redneck" gang called the Charleston Five. Palmer said the gang was responsible for the sniper murders. Sigman had not heard from his son for more than two years.

"I don't know if he was involved. Everybody's got theories and conspiracies, but he knew some people who seemed to be involved in that," Randal Sigman said, according to a Sept. 2008 Gazette report published a month after police found Timothy Sigman's remains in Kentucky.

A phone number for Randal Sigman could not be located. Several phone numbers for people believed to be related to Timothy Sigman were disconnected.

Detectives at the Charleston Police Department and the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department told the Gazette that before the episode aired, Sigman's name had never come up during the course of the investigation. That show forced investigators to consider Sigman's involvement, Charleston Police Sgt. Aaron James said in the 2008 Gazette article.

According to Bobby Walker, who said he was Palmer's confidential informant during that show, the revelation spooked Lester. Sigman had been known to blow the whistle on co-conspirators in the past in order to get out of serving prison time on other charges.

"He knew that if he didn't get rid of Timmy sooner or later, he'd tell on him," Walker said. "Shawn had to kill Timmy to get him out of the picture."

About a year after the 2003 murders, Lester had taken Sigman to a property in Willard, Ky., which was a stop along the Mexican mafia's drug route. Sigman stayed there until his death sometime in 2008, Walker said.

There have been few media reports on Sigman's death since that time, and it is not clear how authorities learned of the location of his remains. Kanawha County prosecutors, however, confirmed that a Kentucky medical examiner identified Sigman's body through his dental records.

Supervising deputy U.S. Marshal John James Perrine, who led portions of the initial sniper investigation in 2003, said last month that Lester was connected to several unsolved murders and confirmed that he may have been responsible for Sigman's death.

"I would suggest that yes, he's one of those cases that needs to be looked into," Perrine said.

Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper said that there is still a continuing investigation into Sigman's murder.

Reach Zac Taylor at zachary.taylor@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.


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