MARION, Va. —
A Sugar Grove father and son, accused of kidnapping and killing a Marion teenager, were indicted Tuesday on capital murder charges by a Smyth County grand jury. Four others, including one woman originally listed as a victim, have been charged in connection with either the abduction or slaying.
Nathan Cord Combs, 18, was a special needs teenager who lived with his parents on Catron Street. He was reported missing March 7, three days after his family last saw him. 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.
On Tuesday, a convicted drug dealer, 38-year-old Daniel Brice Crouse, and his son, 18-year-old Garrett Brice Crouse, both of the 4000 block of Sugar Grove Highway, were indicted on charges of abduction, robbery by violence or threat, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and three counts of capital murder. The indictments read that they killed Combs in the “commission or attempted commission” of distributing methamphetamine, “in the commission of abduction with intent to extort money or pecuniary benefit” and “in the commission of robbery or attempted robbery against the peace and justice of the commonwealth.”
If convicted, they face either life in prison or death.
The father, convicted five years ago in federal court of distributing methamphetamine, also was indicted on using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Rickey Joseph James Jr., 24, of Buck Lane in Marion, was indicted on three counts of accessory to capital murder, punishable by 20 years to life in prison. He also was indicted on charges of abduction “with the intent to extort money or pecuniary benefit;” robbery by violence or threat; and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance.
In the initial complaints on the abduction charges, 27-year-old Jessica James Edwards, of Cline Road in Rural Retreat, was listed as a victim. On Tuesday, Edwards was indicted on three counts of abduction with the intent to extort money – one indictment listing Combs as the victim and the other two naming two other Smyth County teenagers.
Last week, two others were charged.
According to records in Smyth County General District Court, Combs and three others, including Jessica Edwards, arrived March 4 at a ramshackle house at the dead-end of Maywood Drive, a gravel road littered with abandoned buildings and burned-out cars that runs parallel to Virginia Highway 16 between Marion and Sugar Grove.
Daniel Crouse held them in a backroom there at gunpoint, according to court records. He made them take their clothes off, checked “each person for a body wire” and told them none were allowed to leave “for an hour or he would kill them all.”
Authorities have not yet revealed motive or details of ensuing events.
Mindie Mae Davidson, 32, was the elder Crouse’s live-in girlfriend. She was charged in Smyth County General District Court with four counts of conspiracy to commit abduction.
Michael Ray Brown, 37, of Spring Street in 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 six are being held without bond at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Abingdon.
Dan Kegley with the Smyth County News contributed to this report.