MARTINSBURG – Norman Arthur Bradford Jr. admitted he was there in the field by an old cemetery in Berkeley County when Heather Grogg was murdered, shot three times for knowing too much.
According to police, Bradford, 49, nicknamed “Six Three,” for his height, by his fellow motorcycle club members, was told before the murder about a plan to kill Grogg. The pistol used in her murder was allegedly taken from his mechanic’s shed.
Then Bradford drove to the cemetery murder scene. He followed the car ridden there by Grogg, her alleged shooter and a supposed plot leader of her murder.
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Regardless of whether Bradford pulled the trigger, he was involved enough with the two other men to be charged in connection with the slaying, said Sgt. Steven Holz, a criminal investigator with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
“I believe all three played an active role prior to and after the murder,” he testified about Bradford and his alleged accomplices during a court hearing last Friday.
Appearing in Berkeley County Magistrate Court, Holz outlined some details of Bradford’s alleged involvement in one of three killings that police say stemmed from an argument in a Westminster, Maryland, apartment over $40 worth of methamphetamine.
Holz pieced together a scenario assembled from alleged statements from Bradford, from the supposed triggerman and from unnamed others either involved in the crime or in a position to know details. “There are multiple confidential sources that we used,” the detective said.
Magistrate Harry Snow ruled that police had demonstrated enough probable cause in court to send Bradford’s first-degree murder charge before a grand jury to determine whether the case should head to a trial in circuit court.
However, Bradford’s attorney, Robert Stone of Martinsburg, pointed out during last Friday’s hearing that no physical evidence or witnesses — other than a statement by the alleged triggerman, Jeffrey Craig Smith Jr., 22, of Westminster, Maryland — showed that Bradford knew Grogg would be murdered when she was.
The police investigation also does not show that Bradford participated in her killing, Stone maintained.
The ride to the murder scene was allegedly a “blunt ride” to smoke marijuana, Holz said.
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Stone emphasized how Bradford told police he was told about the plot to kill Grogg, but that the man who allegedly planned the killing later said he changed his mind.
The alleged plotter, Monroe Merrell, 23, of Westminster, has been charged in Riddle’s murder but not Grogg’s.
Holz said Bradford and Merrell came to know each other while the younger man attempted to join a motorcycle club that used a Falling Waters clubhouse. “They hit it off,” Holz said of the two. “They kind of had a mentorship relationship.”
Bradford was arrested June 9 by U.S. Marshals while he was reportedly hiding out in a motor home at a residence off Chestnut Hill Road on the Blue Ridge south of Harpers Ferry.
Before that, he lived, as a “camper,” on the same Falling Waters property where the motorcycle club clubhouse was located, Holz said. That clubhouse, a “gutted out trailer,” the detective said, was where Grogg and Danielle Tyler, 18, of Taneytown, Maryland, were lured and murdered on April 7.
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Both Grogg and Tyler witnessed the events involving the stabbing, beating and eventual killing of 33-year-old Jonathan Riddle of Taneytown.
Grogg was shot three times, once in the back of the head at close range. Residents near the cemetery where she was shot reported to police that they heard gunshots that same night, Holz said.
Smith, who is charged with first-degree murder, claimed he intended to, and nearly did, shoot Grogg but “got cold feet,” Holz said. Instead, Bradford grabbed the gun and shot Grogg, Smith allegedly told the detective.
During seven preliminary court hearings in what became a triple murder case, Holz has not named — and so far has not been required to name during court hearings — the cooperating witnesses, saying those people could be endangered if they were identified.
Grogg was killed the night after she was interviewed by Holz on April 6 about Riddle’s killing on March 18. She admitted Riddle visited the Westminster apartment that night, but she said he left the apartment unharmed and alone. She told Holz she didn’t know about Riddle’s murder.
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After Grogg acknowledged Riddle was at the apartment, a man who lived there charged in Riddle’s murder — the father of the two children Grogg looked after as a nanny — wanted her silenced, Holz said. A police investigation was drawing closer to that man —David Ray Sanford Jr., 26, of Westminster — and three other suspects eventually charged in connection with Riddle’s murder.
Conspiracy murder charges against one of the suspects, Sanford’s fiancee, were dropped in Jefferson County Magistrate Court. The status of two juveniles who were involved in the events surrounding Riddle’s death and its coverup has not been publicly disclosed.
Bradford is among four people charged with Grogg’s and Tyler’s murders in Falling Waters. Police believe Tyler was smothered in the clubhouse trailer with a plastic garbage bag after she was served a drink with a sleeping potion. Grogg was believed to be diverted away from the trailer with the promise of marijuana after a drug-laced concoction failed to make her sleep.
Bradford allegedly told Holz that Grogg’s body was probably burned in a fire pit behind the clubhouse trailer, a claim not yet confirmed by FBI crime lab tests. What are suspected to be human bone fragments were found in the fire pit.
Police believe Tyler’s body may have been burned in the same fire pit. The bone fragments found are being analyzed at an FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, Holz said.
In previous testimony, Holz also mentioned a second fire pit at a residence across from where the clubhouse trailer is located.
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An investigation into all three murders continues. A pistol investigators believe was “possibly” used to kill Grogg was just recovered Sunday, July 12. The handgun was found stuffed in a sock and tossed into the Shenandoah River, at a location Holz did not disclose in court.
Revealing a new detail in the case, Holz said what appeared to be two shallow graves were found behind the clubhouse trailer. Two bracelets that police believe belonged to Tyler were left on one.
After being stabbed and beaten in the Westminster apartment, Riddle was taken by a group of seven people traveling in two cars to an isolated spot on Ward Clipp Road near Rippon, police maintain.
There Riddle, a carpenter who was hoping to start a job as a landscaper, was fatally stabbed several more times by three men, police report. His partly burned body was noticed and reported by a passing motorist driving to work.