Four months after police began investigating the shooting death of an elderly Greene County man at his rural home, Betty Jane McClellan and Jacob Albert McClellan were at their rural Greene County home the night of March 22, 2009 when a man approached their residence.
“He approached their mobile home under the guise of needing assistance with a vehicle,” state police Cpl. John Tobin said. However, when Jacob McClellan opened the door, the man pulled out a weapon and demanded money and guns, Tobin said.
What happened over the course of the next few minutes would result in the death of Betty McClellan, and the wounding of Jacob McClellan as the man used a semiautomatic handgun to shoot the 66-year-old man in the neck and face before barging into their Gray Township residence.
Tobin said that Jacob McClellan tried initially to fend the man off, and keep him out of the home, before being shot twice.
After they were inside, Jacob McClellan told police he heard multiple shots, Tobin said.
“Jacob flags down some cars and tries to get them to call emergency personnel,” Tobin said.
He said Jacob McClellan then watched as the suspect fled from the home, while hiding behind either some bushes or a car, before climbing into a white 1980s Ford Econoline van and fleeing the scene.
Tobin said Jacob McClellan went back into his home, and found his wife dying in the bedroom.
“She was dead when emergency personnel arrived,” Tobin said, and her husband was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va., for treatment of his wounds.
Tobin said that he was able to survive his injuries.
According to Tobin, Jacob McClellan was able to provide little as far as a physical description of the suspect in his wife’s shooting death.
Police immediately began to recognize some similarities to another homicide in the county, which occurred Nov. 21, 2008.
“We also had a homicide a few months prior to this back in November of 2008,” Tobin said. “We had the home invasion, robbery, homicide of Noble Wine. Based on the location and the similarities the state police believe that these two cases may be linked.”
Tobin said 82-year-old Noble Wine was found shot dead inside his Franklin Township home after volunteer firefighters responded to the rural residence after receiving reports it was on fire.
Initially, investigators thought that Wine might have died from smoke inhalation. Then, they discovered the gunshot wound.
The state police fire marshal determined that the fire had been intentionally set.
An autopsy determined Wine died from a gunshot wound and not from the fire.
Tobin said other than the knowledge that Wine was murdered, there wasn’t much else to go on — until Betty McClellan’s death four months later.
“The home itself is very isolated, there is farm land to either side of it and there is no other residence around. It is basically out in the middle of nowhere,” Tobin said, noting the similarities between the locations.
Additionally, Tobin said that both suspects were in the scrap metal business, which is a cash-on-hand operation making them targets, and both were shot with a small caliber weapon.
Tobin said that another homicide that occurred in 2011 also has possible links to both the Wine and McClellan slayings, but said that those links remain confidential as police continue to pursue new leads.
“We are actively working both homicides with hopes of a successful conclusion in both of these cases,” Tobin said.
Anyone with information regarding either case is asked to call Tobin at 412-584-9629 or state police Trooper Robert Cree at 724-627-6151.
Additionally, Tobin said that the McClellan family is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case as well as rewards offered by the Greene County Crime Stoppers and state police.