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Arrest made in slaying of 90-year-old Kanawha City man

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston man was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree murder in the bloody slaying of a 90-year-old Kanawha City resident last weekend.

Police say Anthony David Caldwell, 39, killed George Molle Jr. on Friday in Molle's home at 4907 MacCorkle Ave. S.E. Caldwell worked for a lawn-care business that Molle had used, police said.

Molle's body was found in a hallway leading to a back bedroom on Friday night. A neighbor had called police because Molle had not turned on his back porch light, as he frequently did to indicate he was going to bed, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

"I'm truly sorry. It was a mistake," Caldwell said as he was arraigned Wednesday evening in magistrate court. He was dressed in an all-white jumpsuit provided by police.

According to the complaint, Caldwell admitted to police that he killed Molle. No motive was given, but a cigar box and tin can that contained money were allegedly missing from Molle's home after he was killed.

Molle was found laying face up on his floor, with blood coming from his mouth. He had puncture wounds on his head, other wounds on his hands and strangulation marks on his neck, according to the complaint.

There was no sign of forced entry. Police found a bloody hammer and bloody work gloves in a Dumpster near the home, according to the complaint.

Lt. Steve Cooper, chief of detectives for the Charleston Police Department, said police have been working around the clock since Molle's body was discovered. "I haven't slept in days," Cooper said.

According to the complaint, Molle's neighbors said he mainly kept to himself. Aside from his sister, the only people mentioned as associates by more than one neighbor were the employees of a lawn care service.

Inside Molle's house, police found a business card for "Nature-Boys Lawn Care Services." The owner was listed as Dave Caldwell, whom neighbors described.

Detectives began by checking a security camera at nearby United Bank, at 4901 MacCorkle Ave. S.E. They saw a man walk onto the front porch of Molle's home just before 1 p.m. Friday. He entered the house and left 28 minutes later.

That led detectives to check at least four more surveillance cameras, all of which would capture the suspect on tape.

A camera at the 7-Eleven on 50th Street and MacCorkle Avenue showed a white man wearing blue jeans and a dark jacket. The man was seen approaching Molle's house, and walking away from the house about 30 minutes later, according to the complaint.

When the man approached the house, he wasn't carrying anything. When he left, he was allegedly carrying a white bag and a black garbage bag.

Detectives then got footage from cameras at Drug Emporium and the Computer Warehouse, both on MacCorkle Avenue. Both cameras showed the man walking east in a nearby alley, according to the complaint.

Molle's sister told police that she thought a tin can filled with change had been taken from her brother's home. That led police to the Kroger at 5717 MacCorkle Ave. S.E., which has a Coinstar machine that automatically rolls change.

Cameras at the Kroger also showed the suspect, who still had the white bag, but no longer had the black garbage bag, according to the complaint.

After retracing their steps and searching the alley, police found a trash bag with the bloody hammer and gloves in a Dumpster behind Drug Emporium.

Caldwell's girlfriend identified him from still images taken from surveillance cameras, according to the complaint. She allegedly told police that Caldwell lived with her -- about 20 blocks east of Molle's house -- and said that Caldwell was at a friend's house on Clemson Avenue in Rand.

Police found Caldwell there and arrested him.

Kanawha Magistrate Joe Shelton arraigned Caldwell and set a preliminary court date for Jan. 16. Caldwell was taken to South Central Regional Jail, where he was being held without bond.

Reach David Gutman at david.gutman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.


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