Remains of Missing West Virginia Mother and Daughter Found 24 Years Later After Deathbed Confession

Remains of a West Virginia mother and daughter missing since 2000 found after suspect confessed on his deathbed. Decades-long cold case finally solved through renewed investigation.

Shivani Chauhan
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Remains of Missing West Virginia Mother and Daughter Found 24 Years Later After Deathbed Confession

Remains of Missing West Virginia Mother and Daughter Found 24 Years Later After Deathbed Confession

The remains found of a West Virginia mother and her 10-year-old daughter who vanished in 2000 have been recovered, authorities said, after the man long suspected in their disappearance confessed to fatally shooting them on his deathbed.

Larry Webb, 84, admitted to killing Susan Carter and her daughter Natasha "Alex" Carter before he died on Monday at a hospital, according to the Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. Webb had been indicted on a first-degree murder charge in Alex's death last October.

The mother and daughter were last observed on August 8, 2000, in Beckley, West Virginia. Susan, who was involved in a custody dispute with Alex's father at the time, had been living with Webb when they disappeared. "Susan had told Alex's father that he would never see his daughter again," Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hatfield said in a statement.

The case went cold for over two decades until the FBI and West Virginia State Police launched a renewed investigation in 2021. In September 2023, a caregiver at Webb's home told investigators that a bullet with the 10-year-old's blood on it had been found in a bedroom wall, leading to Webb's arrest.

Why this matters: The tragic case highlights the relentless efforts of law enforcement to bring closure to families of missing persons, even decades after their disappearance. It also underscores the importance of pursuing leads and leveraging new investigative techniques to solve cold cases.

On Monday, just hours before the remains were discovered, Webb provided detailed information to investigators about how he killed Susan and Alex in 2000. "He stated that he had shot Susan after an argument over money, believing that she had spent a large amount of cash," Hatfield said. "He then shot Alex to avoid detection for Susan's murder."

Webb told detectives that he buried the bodies in a shallow grave on his property in the Beckley-Mabscott area. The remains were found on Monday afternoon during an excavation of the site, and will be sent to the West Virginia State Medical Examiner for identification.

Alex's father, Rick Lafferty, expressed a mix of relief and sadness at the news. "I never gave up hope that I would find Alex and bring her home," Lafferty said in a statement released by the FBI. "Now I can do that, and lay her to rest. She will always be my baby."

Webb, who had dementia, died on Monday morning after suffering a medical episode while incarcerated at Mount Olive Correctional Complex. He had been scheduled to stand trial for Alex's murder in November. The FBI said the investigation into the case is ongoing, despite Webb's death. "The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to seek justice for Alex and Susan," said Special Agent Mike Nordwall.

Key Takeaways

  • Remains of missing WV mother and daughter found after 22 years
  • Suspect Larry Webb confessed to killing them on his deathbed
  • Webb shot Susan Carter after argument, then killed 10-year-old Alex
  • Remains found in shallow grave on Webb's property in Beckley-Mabscott
  • FBI to continue investigation despite Webb's death, seek justice for victims