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UPDATE: Third Plea in Greenup Double Murder

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 7/21/14 @ 11:30 a.m.
GREENUP, Ky. (WSAZ) – A third person has now pleaded guilty to their role in a double murder in Greenup County.

Sammy Bertram, 24, of Grayson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery during a hearing Monday Greenup County Circuit Court.

He is expected to get a sentence between 5 and 10 years. Bertram will be sentenced August 15 in Lewis County, Ky., were he faces unrelated charges of drinking while driving.

Bertram was one of five people arrested and charged in connection with the murders of Jeff Long and Pamela Willis.

Long, 45, and Willis, 21,were found dead in Long’s burned out trailer on Leatherwood Road in February 2008.

In 2010, Mitchell Royster, 27, of Garrison was charged with two counts of capital murder and one count of 1st degree arson.

Then in February 2013, Bertram, Willie Burns, 25, of Grayson and Chrissie Royster, 25, of Grayson were each charged with two counts of murder, robbery, arson and tampering with physical evidence in the deaths. Ashley Craft, 24, of Garrison, Ky., was charged with complicity to commit robbery.

The four were arrested and charged after Mitchell Royster made a plea deal with prosecutors.

In February 2013, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 22 years. He also agreed to testify against the others as part of his plea deal.

Ashley Craft recently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery.

Craft will be sentenced July 24.

Commonwealth Attorney Mel Leonhart says the deal calls for a 10 year sentence, but she will serve two.

Willie Burns has a status hearing at the end of the month.

Chrissie Royster’s trial is set for October.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 2/15/13 @ 1 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Four people have been indicted in connection with a double murder after a friend and family member turned on them in court.

A Greenup County Grand Jury on Thursday charged Willie Burns, 24, Chrissie Royster, 24, and Sammy Bertram, 23, all of Grayson, Ky., with two counts of murder, robbery, arson and tampering with physical evidence.

A fourth person, Ashley Craft, 23, of Garrison, Ky., was also indicted for complicity to commit robbery.

Back in January, the four were arrested in connection with the deaths of Jeff Long and Pamela Willis. The two were found dead in a burned out trailer on Leatherwood Road in February 2008.

The trio was arrested after one of the men at the center of the case, Mitchell Royster, made a plea deal with prosecutors.

As a part of Royster's plea deal, he will testify against the others during trial.

Royster was recently sentenced to 22 years in prison, with a credit for those two years he's already served. Agreeing to the deal helped Royster avoid the death penalty.

Burns, Chrissie Royster and Bertram remain in the Greenup County Detention Center. Their bond was set at $1 million, cash only.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 1/17/13 @ 6:30 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A man will avoid the death penalty and life in prison for making a plea deal, which, in turn, put some of his family and friends behind bars.

The case all started back in 2008.

The Greenup County Sheriff says a robbery over drugs and money went bad and ended with a fire that killed two people.

Now -- five years later -- five people are in custody.

For the family members of the victims: it's a relief they can hardly put into words.

“My heart breaks every day,” Tammy Grizzle said. “I wake up. I can't stand it without her.”

Grizzle lost her daughter Pam in the deadly arson back in 2008. Jeffery Long also died in the burning trailer. For the first time since then, Tammy says she has peace… now that the all the suspects in the case are in custody.

“It's been wonderful,” Grizzle said. “I'm so glad that we can get justice for her.”

The first arrest came back in 2010. Since then, Mitchell Royster has sat in jail in Greenup County. Eventually, the pieces came together. He agreed to testify against four other people involved in the arson. Thursday, they were arrested. Royster's wife, Chrissie Bertram- Royster, Sammy Bertram, and Willie Burns were all charged with murder in the case. Ashley Craft was charged with complicity to commit robbery.

“The biggest thing is to be able to look at the family and say we got the people in jail that killed your loved ones,” Sheriff Keith Cooper said. “That's what we're here for.”

Thursday, Royster pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in the case.

“I know his family is as sorry as can be for the loss of loved ones from other families,” Defense Attorney James Lyon said. “We all are. This is something that did not need to happen.”

For Tammy Grizzle, the sweetest relief is putting her granddaughters’ minds at ease.

“My granddaughters, her daughters ask every day when they're going to get the people that done this to their mommy,” Grizzle said.

Mitchell Royster will have a sentencing hearing in February.

Royster is expected to receive 22 years in prison -- with a credit for those two years he's already served.



UPDATE 1/17/13 @ 11:30 a.m.
GREENUP, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Four more people have been arrested and charged in connection with a double murder in Greenup County, thanks to a plea deal by the man already charged with the crime.

The double murder and arson happened at a trailer on Leatherwood Road on February 23, 2008.

45-year-old Jeffery Long, who owned the trailer, and 21-year-old Pamela Wills died in the fire.

In December 2010, a grand jury indicted Mitchell Royster, 24, of Garrison, Ky., on two counts of capital murder and one count of first-degree arson.

Greenup Commonwealth Attorney Mel Leonhart tells WSAZ.com that Royster has agreed to plead guilty to reduced charges of two counts of second-degree manslaughter, one count of criminal facilitation of first-degree arson, one count of conspiracy to commit robbery.

Leonhart says as part that plea deal, Royster is requited to testify against the four people arrested Thursday that he said were part of the crime.

Royster will make the plea official during a hearing Thursday afternoon. He receives a 22 years sentence.

Thursday morning, Greenup Sheriff Deputies along the Kentucky State Police and Lewis County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested Mitchell Royster's wife, Chrissie Bertram-Royster, 23, of Garrison, Ky., Sammy Bertram, 22, of Garrison, Ky., Willie Burns, 23, of Garrison, Ky., and Ashley Craft, 23, of Garrison Ky.

Bertram-Royster, Bertram, and Burns are charged with capital murder, robbery, arson and tampering with evidence

Craft was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.

We have a crew in Greenup covering the arrests.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 1/6/11 @ 2:05 p.m.
GREENUP, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A Lewis County man indicted for a fire that killed two people in Greenup County, Kentucky was in court on Thursday.

Mitchell Royster, 24, of Garrison, pleaded not guilty to two counts of Capital Murder and one count of 1st Degree Arson during a hearing in Greenup County Circuit Court.

Following the plea, Royster asked the judge to have his bond reduced. That request was denied.

His next court appearance is set for March.

The charges stem from a fire at a trailer on Leatherwood Road on February 23, 2008.

45-year-old Jeffery Long, who owned the trailer, and 21-year-old Pamela Wills died in the fire.

Royster is being held in the Greenup County Detention Center.



UPDATE 12/21/10 @11 a.m.
GREENUP, Ky (WSAZ) -- A Lewis County man has been in indicted for a fire that killed two people in Greenup County.

A Greenup Count Grand Jury indicted Mitchell Royster, 24, of Garrison, Ky. on two counts of Capital Murder and one count of 1st Degree Arson.

The charges stem from a fire at a trailer on Leatherwood Road on February 23, 2008.

45-year-old Jeffery Long, who owned the trailer and 21-year-old Pamela Wills died in the fire.

Royster is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges January 6.

He is being held in the Greenup County Detention Center.



ORIGINAL STORY 3/6/08
GREENUP, KY (WSAZ)--Investigators believe they have identified the two people who died in fire in Greenup County last month.

The fire happened at a trailer on Leatherwood Road on February 23.

County Coroner Neil Wright believes 45-year old Jeffery Long and 21-year old Pamela Wills were the victims.

Wright says both bodies were burned beyond recognition and dental records could not be used in the ID. DNA samples from both bodies are now being tested in an effort get a positive ID.

Wright says neither person has contacted family for friends since the fire. He says long lived at the house, while Willis was a visiting friend.

The exact cause of and manner of death is being withheld due to the ongoing investigation by the Sheriff’s office and the State Fire Marshal.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact the Greenup County Sheriff or 911.


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