Comments Off on Father, son face indictment by Smyth grand jury on kidnapping, murder charges

A Sugar Grove father and son – accused of abducting four people then killing a teenager whose body was later found in the Jefferson National Forest – face indictment today by a Smyth County grand jury.

Nathan Cord Combs, 18, who lived with his parents on Catron Street, was reported missing to the Marion Police Department on March 7, three days after his parents last saw him. He was described by his family as a trustworthy, special needs teenager who wandered off from time to time but always called or came home.

His body was found March 12 in the Comers Creek area, a rural gravel road at the top of a mountain in the Jefferson National Forest, just shy of the Grayson County line.

Five people were arrested the next day and charged with abducting Combs and three others, then stripping them down and holding them at gunpoint for an hour in the back room of a ramshackle house in Marion.

According to court records, a 36-year-old convicted drug dealer named Daniel Brice Crouse, of the 4000 block of Sugar Grove Highway, was charged with four counts of abduction, four counts of conspiracy to commit abduction, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

He has not yet been charged with homicide, according to court records, though Smyth County Commonwealth’s Attorney Roy F. Evans told the Smyth County News last week that he will present capital murder indictments today to a grand jury against Crouse and his 18-year-old son.

While authorities have yet to reveal a motive, Combs and the other three arrived at a house at the dead end of Maywood Drive, a gravel road dotted with abandoned houses and burned-out sports cars that runs parallel to state Route 16 between Marion and Sugar Grove.

According to court records, Crouse held them at gunpoint, made them take their clothes off and checked “each person for a body wire.” He put them in a bedroom on the back side of the house and told them none were allowed to leave “for an hour or he would kill them all,” according to criminal complaints filed in Smyth County General District Court.

The house where Combs and the others were reportedly kept looks vacant but for two satellite dishes. The porch is caving in, the siding is patched with shingles and the windows are broken and covered in plastic. The front door is padlocked from the outside and a screwdriver holds the storm door closed.

It is not clear in court records how and why the other three were released. It is also not clear exactly when, where and how Combs was killed.

His body was sent for an autopsy.

On March 10, three days after Combs’ family reported him missing, an unnamed witness went to the Marion Police Department to report “that there may be foul play involved with Nathan’s disappearance.”

Daniel Crouse moved to the area 10 years ago from Oklahoma, according to court records. He has a 12th grade education and collects $1,100 a month in unemployment.

He was convicted in U.S. District Court in 2006 of distributing methamphetamine. In his plea deal, three other drug charges and two weapons charges were dismissed. He was sentenced to 36 months of probation and fined $100.

His son, Garrett Brice Crouse, 18, who lives with his father and grandfather at the Sugar Grove Highway address, was charged in Smyth County General District with four counts of conspiracy to commit abduction and four counts of abduction as a principal in the second degree. A capital murder indictment against him is also expected to be presented to a grand jury today, according to the Smyth County News.

The younger Crouse has a 10th grade education and works part-time for a family construction company. He was charged March 5, the day after Combs disappeared, with a misdemeanor concealed weapons violation, according to court records.

The three others charged in the abduction, according to court records, helped Crouse “to cause the victims additional fear of harm.”

Ricky Joseph James Jr., 24, of Buck Lane, Marion, was charged with four counts of abduction and four counts of conspiracy to commit abduction. An indictment charging him with accessory to capital murder will be presented to a grand jury today as well, the Smyth County News reported.

Mindie Mae Davidson, 32, of the Crouses’ Sugar Grove Highway address, was charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit abduction.

Michael Ray Brown, 37, of Spring Street, Galax, Va., was charged with four counts of abduction and four counts of conspiracy to commit abduction. Brown has a prior record that includes cocaine distribution, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, habitual traffic offenses, using abusive language and reckless driving.

All are being held without bail at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Abingdon awaiting a hearing May 18 in Smyth County General District Court.

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