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Missing Woman: Wendy Dawn Beadles Francis - VA - 06/2012

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Police search for missing Nathalie woman

LAST UPDATED ON 03:44 PM 08/16/12


A 35-year-old Nathalie woman has been missing for two months now, and the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office is hoping the public can aid in its search for Wendy Dawn Beadles Francis.

According to Captain S. M. Cassada, Francis was last seen in June by her father, Kenneth Beadles, at the home they shared on Brad Smith Trail in Nathalie.

Francis is a white female, born Nov. 20,1976. She is five-foot four-inches tall and weighs 120 pounds. Cassada noted that she currently has brown hair and blues eyes. A tattoo of a scorpion can be found on the back of her neck, Cassada said.

“Francis isn’t wanted on any charges and does not have any medical conditions,” he added.

Authorities have no reason to think there is any foul play involved, Cassada said. 

However, he added, Francis is known to drift from time to time.

“But this is the longest she has ever been gone,” he said.

Authorities have checked with several of Francis’s acquaintances, according to Cassada, who said police have reason to believe Francis may be in North Carolina with acquaintances.

Anyone with information concerning Francis’ whereabouts is asked to contact the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office at 434-476-4273.

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Investigators search Campbell County for missing woman

By: Steve Hardy | The News & Advance

Published: October 16, 2012

Wendy Dawn Beadles Francis

In the search for a missing Halifax County woman, investigators have turned their sights on Brookneal.

Wendy Dawn Beadles Francis was last seen by her father Kenneth Beadles on June 8 at the home they shared on Brad Smith Trail in Nathalie.

The 35-year-old woman was not reported missing until early August.

Halifax Sheriff Fred Clark said Francis frequently would go missing for a week or two while she worked in North Carolina.

But this summer, she left and never returned. One of Francis’s friends, with whom she spoke daily, hasn’t heard from her either, Clark said.

Now investigators believe that foul play may be involved in Francis’ disappearance.

After some digging, investigators learned Francis had friends in Brookneal and may have stayed there a few nights after she left home, the sheriff said.

Investigators hoped those friends might be able to help locate her, but the trail has run cold.

“It’s like she just vanished,” Clark said.

Since authorities last placed the woman in Brookneal, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office has joined the search. Maj. L. T. Guthrie said the office has assigned its own deputy to help investigate the case.

Clark said Francis isn’t wanted on any charges and does not have any known medical conditions.

She was found guilty of possession of marijuana in Halifax County in May, according to court records, but her 30-day jail sentence was suspended. The judge also suspended her license for six months.

With their leads exhausted, authorities are asking for help finding the missing woman.

She is described as 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighing 120 pounds with brown hair, blue eyes and a scorpion tattoo on the back of her neck.

She may have relatives in the Naruna area, Guthrie said. Investigators do not think she had a significant other, Clark added.

With so many questions and few answers, it’s difficult for investigators to speculate on what happened.

“Foul play may be expected,” Clark said.

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Foul play possible in missing woman case

Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2012 11:06 am

Authorities in Halifax and Campbell counties now say they have reason to believe foul play may have been involved in the disappearance of Wendy Dawn Beadles Francis of Nathalie after deputies were able to track her last known whereabouts to the Brookneal area.

Francis was last seen at her father’s house on Brad Smith Trail in Nathalie in June, but authorities say they have discovered Francis was seen in Brookneal shortly after leaving her father’s house, Halifax County Sheriff Fred Clark said.

Francis had friends in Brookneal and may have stayed there after she left home, according to Clark.

Campbell County Sheriff’s Office Maj. L. T. Guthrie said no reasonable explanation exists for Francis’ disappearance.

Guthrie said Francis had been known to disappear weeks at time before contacting relatives, but this time she hasn’t done that.

At this time, Clark said the sheriff’s office is diligently working to locate Francis, but hasn’t had any concrete leads.

Clark and Guthrie are both hoping someone will come forward with the information they need to locate Francis.

Francis, 35, is a white female, born Nov. 20, 1976. She is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 120 pounds.

Capt. Steve Cassada of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office said when last seen, she had brown hair and blue eyes.

A tattoo of a scorpion can be found on the back of her neck, Cassada said.

“Francis isn’t wanted on any charges and does not have any medical conditions,” he added.

Anyone with information concerning Francis’ whereabouts is asked to contact the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office at 434-476-4273.

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Search ongoing for missing woman

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 2:23 pm

James Meadows

The Campbell County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 5, on two different properties in Brookneal. One search took place at a home surrounding woods, pond and field on Phelps Creek Road, while another was conducted at a home on Mattox Street in Brookneal.

Campbell County Sheriff Steve Hutcherson said, “Information had been received from a third party that led us to the area in search for Wendy Beadles Francis.”

Francis, a 36-year-old Nathalie resident, has been missing since June of last year and was last seen in Brookneal, according to authorities.

Authorities are hoping evidence found at the two search sites in Campbell County Tuesday, which has been sent to a Roanoke lab for analysis, may lead them to discover what happened to Francis.

Assisting the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office in the search were investigators from the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police officers and dive team members, search and rescue team members and Alcoholic Beverage Control agents.

“Approximately 50-60 people were involved in the two searches,” Hutcherson said.

A missing person report was filed in July for Francis in Halifax County. Campbell County began assisting Halifax with the case after leads brought them to the county.

According to Hutcherson, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office was notified in October that a location in Campbell County had been identified as the alleged site of where Francis had been residing with a friend.

“We couldn’t identify anyone putting her past this person and point,” he added.

However, since the investigation is ongoing, Hutcherson was not able to comment when asked who owned the two properties involved in Tuesday’s search.

He also declined to comment on whether authorities are pursuing any persons of interest in Francis’ disappearance.

Hutcherson said, “I’d rather not comment on that. The ultimate goal of the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department is to make an arrest if we find that a crime has been committed.”

Halifax County Sheriff Fred Clark confirmed with media sources Thursday a swab for DNA had been taken from Francis’ parents on Wednesday.

Hutcherson said the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department is actively investigating this case, which may lead to other searches, but added he couldn’t say for sure at this time whether more searches will be made.

“We are still actively investigating the disappearance of Ms. Francis with the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office. Anyone with information that’s had contact between May-June 2012 or anyone with information at all, we would like to talk with them,” Hutcherson said.

Francis is a white female, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 120 pounds.

At the time she was reported missing, Francis had brown hair and blue eyes. A tattoo of a scorpion can be found on the back of her neck.

Authorities said Francis isn’t wanted on any charges and does not have any medical conditions.

Anyone with information concerning Francis’ whereabouts is asked to contact the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at 434-332-9580 or the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office at 434-476-4273.

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Investigators Continue to Search for Missing Halifax Co. Woman
Posted: Jul 23, 2013 4:51 PM EDT
By Dhomonique Ricks


Campbell Co., VA - It's been nearly one year since a Halifax County woman was reported missing.

Wendy Beadles Francis was last seen in Campbell County on June 15, 2012. Her family reported her missing more than one year ago to the day.

Her family says they need lots of help to bring some closure to Francis' family.

Officials with the Campbell County Sheriff's Office say the 36-year-old was last seen at a house on Mattox Street in the town of Brookneal. They say she was staying with a man, but they will not release the nature of that relationship.

Officials did however, search the home back in February and took some evidence out. The evidence is currently waiting to be processed at a Roanoke forensics lab.

Officials will not confirm whether they believe the disappearance is a homicide or not, but they do say that no one has heard from her in more than a year, which is not like Francis.

"We continue with the hope that she would be found and be found safe but the more time that passes by, the hopes of that happening diminish," said Inv. Brandon Epperson, and Investigator with the Campbell County Sheriff's Office.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Wendy Francis, please contact the Campbell County Sheriff's Office at 434-332-9580.

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Families Rally Together, Wanting Closure on Missing Loved Ones


Posted: Jun 07, 2014 6:18 PM EDT


South Boston, VA - It's hard to imagine going a day knowing that your loved one is missing, but a few families in our viewing area have gone years with no clue if their family member is safe and sound.


On Saturday, they got together and raised awareness about missing people in our area. The organization, Help Save The Next Girl, set up a booth at WalMart in South Boston. They gave those families a chance to refresh those missing person cases, hoping to end the day with a few tips or leads.


The families say they've been playing the waiting game for way too long.


"This June will be two years," said Gayle Snead, whose daughter is missing.


"She went missing April 9, 2012," said Paula Hodges, whose daughter is also missing,


"He's been missing since November... Thanksgiving November past," said  John Brown, whose brother is missing.


And for sisters Diane Brown and Tee Barkesdale, their sister, Hattie Brown has been missing for five years now.


All these families rallied together on one mission; to get closure and locate their loved ones.


"You never give up on someone you love," said Barkesdale.


They're all part of the organization, Help Save the Next Girl. The group was started in honor of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington who went missing and was found dead in Charlottesville in 2009. The organization works to prevent crimes against young women and generate buzz about missing person cases- hopefully leading to a happy ending.


"It's hard to respond effectively when you've just have the worst thing in your life happened to you. Someone that you love has been taken. So we're trying to back each other up," said Gil Harrington, founder of Help Save The Next Girl.


They set up a booth at the Walmart in South Boston, reminding the public about the missing person cases of John Brown, Hattie Brown, Heather Hodges and Wendy Beadles Francis, hoping their pictures will jog someone's memory.


"If it's not out of sight, it's not out of mind," said Barkesdale.


"These things don't happen in a vacuum. Somebody knows something,"Harringtonn said.


Help Save the Next Girl will be in Nelson County on June 18, soliciting tips and information on the disappearance of Alexis Murphy.

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Family of Wendy Beadles Francis hails arrest, pleads for more tips

By TOM McLAUGHLIN / July 16, 2014


Expressing relief and gratitude that a suspect has been charged with the murder of Wendy Dawn Beadles Francis, the parents of the long-missing Nathalie 35-year-old yesterday appealed for information that could lead to one final break in the case — where her body might be found.


“I still believe someone knows where she’s at and they need to come forward,” said Gayle Snead, mother of Francis, who is presumed dead after going missing in late July 2012.


On Monday, a Campbell County grand jury indicted Jeffrey Morgan Wright, 52, of Brookneal, for second degree murder in Francis’ death. Authorities say Wright and Beadles had a brief relationship around the time she was last seen by her family. Wright also has been charged with unlawful disposal of a body.


Ms. Snead was joined by Wendy Francis’ father, Kenneth Beadles, and family members Glenn and Earl Beadles at a press conference yesterday to plead for the public’s help in finding out more about what happened to Francis, who left the Nathalie home that she shared with her father in June 2012. Much of what happened to Frances after that time remains a mystery to the family, according to her parents.


Kenneth Beadles said he has been tormented by his daughter’s fate ever since he reported her disappearance to authorities in late July 2012. Wendy Beadles Francis lived at home with her father until June 8 of that year, according to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office.


“I can’t sleep, I can’t eat. It’s been rough the last two years. It’s all I’ve been able to think about,” said Beadles, who said he has lost 20 pounds worrying about his daughter.


Of Wright, the suspected killer, Beadles said: “I don’t want to see him die, I just want to see him in the pen and have to think about it every day. I think about it every day. I want him to think about it every day, what he did.”


Family members said they didn’t know much about Wright at the time he was involved with Wendy Francis, although they were acquainted with other members of Wright’s family living in the Brookneal area. Both parents say they believe that Francis had broken off whatever relationship she may have had with Wright, which Snead said wasn’t very close.


“I don’t think dating [is] the word. I think ‘acquaintance’ would be more like it,” Snead said.


The victim’s mother and father depicted the murder suspect as a man who bullies and assaults women, although his violent streak was unknown to them at the time he and Wendy Francis were seeing each other.


“He’s not going to hurt another girl,” said Gayle Snead yesterday. Of Wright’s reputation in the community, “I’ve never really heard anything good about him.”


In December 2013, Wright was charged by Campbell authorities for the assault of a woman, not Francis, who had been living at his Phelps Creek Road home. The severity of the victim’s injuries prompted emergency personnel to summon a helicopter to airlift her from Brookneal to Lynchburg General Hospital. She was later released.


Snead alluded to the incident in condemning Wright’s pattern of violence and intimidation: “When you put 80 stitches in someone’s head, that draws attention to your situation,” she said.


Wright has been incarcerated at the Campbell County Adult Detention Center since the Dec. 19 attack and is scheduled to go to trial at the end of this month on charges of aggravated malicious wounding. He was indicted earlier this week for Wendy Francis’ murder while still behind bars.


The officer who served the murder warrant Tuesday “said the look on his [Wright’s] face was priceless,” said Snead, referring to his surprise at being charged. “I feel like we’re moving forward.”


She speculated that Wright has gotten away with other misdeeds in the past, including domestic assault and drug parties, and may have thought that he was safe from prosecution in Francis’ disappearance as long as the body did not turn up: “I think he’d actually thought he’d gotten away with it. It had been two years and nothing had happened to him,” Snead said.


In February 2013, a team of some 40 law enforcement personnel spent 10 hours searching for evidence in the case, a sweep that combined the efforts of canine units, dive teams and officers on foot. Their focus was an area off Mattox Road in Brookneal and at Phillips Creek in northern Halifax County.


Snead praised the work of Campbell County’s Sheriff’s Office, calling the investigation and this week’s indictments “just awesome.”


Beadles, the father, said family members do not know much about the details of the case that Campbell investigators have built against Wright, although he pointed to one piece of potential key evidence: the discovery of blood in Wright’s doublewide trailer home on Phelps Creek Home. Both he and Ms. Snead, the victim’s mother, have given blood samples to the Campbell department for the purposes of DNA matching, Beadles said.


Snead expressed the hope that more information will be forthcoming in the case, perhaps from individuals who knew Wright but may have been afraid of crossing him before now.


“People in Campbell County who knew what happened need to come forward,” she said. “I do believe [Wendy’s body] is in Campbell County.”


To furnish information in the disappearance of Wendy Dawn Beadles Francis, contact the Central Virginia Crime Stoppers at 1-877-798-5900. Callers will be remain anonymous.

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Man gets 26 years in prison for murder in case of missing Campbell Co. woman

The body of Wendy Beadles Francis has not been found

Web Staff, WDBJ7

WDBJ7 Reporter Nadine Maeser Nadine Maeser

POSTED: 03:09 PM EDT Apr 07, 2015  

UPDATED: 11:14 PM EDT Apr 07, 2015


CAMPBELL CO., Va. - A Campbell County man will spend more than 20 years in prison for the murder of Wendy Beadles Francis.


Jeffrey Wright walked into a Campbell County courtroom wearing shackles and an orange jumpsuit as he entered into a plea agreement for 2nd degree murder and felony concealing a body.


“There were risks to him testifying and the plea agreement seemed to be something that was as good as we were going to get, even if we had gone to trial and gotten a good result,” said Wright’s defense attorney Gordon Peters.


Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul McAndrews called the lead investigator on the case to testify Tuesday afternoon.


Campbell County investigator Brandon Epperson had been on the case since October 2012. Prior to that, Francis’ case was handled by investigators in Halifax County.


According to Epperson, Francis last spoke with family on June 17, 2012. He testified it was unusual for friends and family to not hear from Francis on a daily or weekly basis.


Epperson said Francis had been living with Wright for a couple of days at his home located along Phelps Creek Road in Brookneal.


According to Epperson, Francis used Wright’s cell phone to call her mother on June 15, 2012. She also tried to call her half-sister on June 17, 2012. He said the call to her sister was the last known phone call Francis made before disappearing.


According to phone records obtained by investigators, Wright did not take any incoming calls on June 18, 2012, but he did make outgoing calls.


Similar activity occurred on June 19, 2012 when Wright took one incoming call and made four outgoing calls.


Epperson testified it was not normal phone activity for Wright.


Epperson also said Wright made a call to Carpet Land in Lynchburg on June 20, 2012 to request a work order. Epperson said Wright was looking to get some carpet replaced at his home.


On June 21, 2012, a crew from Carpet Land went to Wright’s home along Phelps Creek Road to evaluate the job. At the time they noticed a section of the carpet and padding had already been removed.


Wright reportedly told them his fish aquarium had spilled on the floor.


Crews also noticed red spots on the ceiling as well as a hole in the wall, which they later told investigators looked like a bullet hole. They also told investigators they had joked that the work being done in his house appeared to seem like he was trying to cover up a murder scene.


On July 31, 2012, Francis’ father finally reported Wendy missing to Halifax County. It wasn’t until investigators realized she had been living with Wright in Brookneal that the case was handed over to Campbell County in October.


Epperson said he interviewed Wright on October 2, 2012, nearly four months after the alleged murder.


Wright told investigators he last saw his girlfriend when he dropped her off at a local dollar store. Investigators asked Wright if the two had an argument or fight and he said they did not have any problems.


McAndrews said investigators placed tracking devices on his vehicle, but they were not able to get any information from the tracking.


On February 5, 2013, investigators executed search warrants at Wright’s home along Phelps Creek Road as well as at another home Wright inherited from his mother along Maddox Street.


Epperson said they found three key pieces of evidence at the home located along Phelps Creek Road including blood on a ceiling fan blade, blood on a fish tank and blood on a smoke detector.


All of the evidence was sent to the forensic lab in Roanoke, according to Epperson.


On March 20, 2013, investigators met with Wright to tell him about the results from forensic lab.


Epperson said that is when Wright changed his story about Francis. Wright told investigators there had been an argument. Wright said Francis pulled a knife on him so he “punched her out.” Wright said when she regained consciousness, she had blood dripping from her nose so he used a wash cloth to clean it off of her face.


Epperson said Wright continued to give investigators inconsistent statements over the course of their investigation.


At one point, he told investigators Francis had overdosed on drugs.


Wright also told investigators he did not have any repairs done to his home. He claimed he never fixed a hole in the wall, however investigators found the wall had been spackled. They also found a piece of lead in the wall, but forensic testing could not determine if it was, in fact, a piece of a bullet.


According to McAndrews, the blood found on the ceiling fan was a “familiar blood match” to Francis. He said there was a one in 21 million chance that the blood came from someone else other Francis.


Blood found on the fish tank near the carpet he had replaced himself also had the same blood match.


McAndrews said they did not test the blood on the smoke detector because of the other matches.


Thanks to a search warrant, investigators learned the carpet padding had been replaced in Wright’s home. They also learned a section of the flooring underneath the carpet had been painted with a primer.


Floor analysis from the forensic lab later proved the blood found on the floor was a “familiar match” for Francis.


McAndrews said all the evidence collected showed there was a “significant amount of blood.”


“We know she died there,” said McAndrews. “We just don’t know how she died.”


Peters said the evidence proved Francis’ death could have been the result of a tragic accident.


According to Peters, Francis had been living with Wright for about 12 days. He said the relationship between the two was fueled by drugs and alcohol.

“We don’t know what happened,” said Peters. “We will never know.”


Campbell County Circuit Court Judge John Cook sentenced Wright to 40 years in prison with 14 years suspended for the murder charge. He sentenced him to five years for the concealment of a body and suspended the entire sentence.


Wright will serve 26 years in prison. He is currently serving 11 years for an assault conviction in another case. McAndrews said he will serve it concurrently.


Cook told Wright he is to have no contact with the victim’s family.


McAndrews said this was his first time prosecuting a murder case with no body. He said it was challenging, but he has no doubt that Francis died on Wright’s floor inside his home.


“Wendy Francis died on that floor in that home,” he said. “The exact manner in which she died was the issue for trial.”


Campbell County Sheriff’s Office plans on continuing its search for Francis’ body.  Sheriff Steve A. Hutcherson said a date has not been set as to when they will begin a new search.


Wright’s sister was in court Tuesday afternoon. She said this has been a tragedy for both families.


“Tragedy,” she said. “It’s the only word to describe it.”


Francis’ mother, Gayle Snead, and Francis’ father were in court, but they did not want to make a comment to the media.


The man accused in the disappearance of Wendy Beadles Francis entered a plea agreement Tuesday in Campbell County court to charges of second-degree murder and concealing a body.


Jeffery Wright was sentenced to serve 26 years in prison on the murder charge. Wright also received five years for concealing a body, but that sentence was suspended.


Investigators have not found Francis’ body. The 35-year-old went missing from Campbell County in June 2012. The Campbell County Sheriff's Office says it will continue looking for Francis' body.


Wright is currently serving 11 years in prison on a separate assault charge. The murder sentence will run concurrently with the assault conviction.


Investigators said blood found on a ceiling fan, fish tank, and smoke detector likely belonged to Francis. Wright bleached parts of the home and removed carpets and padding, an investigator testified.


The relationship between Wright and Francis consisted of doing drugs and drinking, Wright’s attorney said. They only had lived together 12 days.


Wright’s attorney said there was an altercation between Wright and Francis. Wright claims he punched Francis, and she grabbed a knife. The last thing Wright remembers is Francis bleeding from the nose.


Whatever happened was a tragic accident, Wright’s attorney said. Prosecutors say they know Francis died in Wright’s home, they just don’t know how.

The last time anyone heard from Francis was June 15, 2012. She was reported missing on July 31, 2012.

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