By Ronni Newton
Jonathan “Johnny” Benjamin-Adams, 14, who graduated from King Philip Middle School in West Hartford in the spring and planned Hall High School as a freshman this fall, has died, the Hampshire County (WV) Sheriff’s Office has confirmed.
According to the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office, a 16-year-old relative of the West Hartford teen has been arrested and charged with burglary, but the connection between those charges and the death of the teen was not provided.
Officials said that they have developed a suspect in the death of the teen, and the investigation is continuing, and anyone with further information is asked to call 304-822-3894.
We-Ha.com has left several messages with the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Officer requesting further clarification.
Johnny had been reported missing Sunday from the home of relatives in Hampshire County, WV, where he had been visiting for the past few months and was due to return home to West Hartford this weekend.
The Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office posted a message on their Facebook page late Saturday afternoon, indicating that the search for Johnny had been called off after investigators located a shallow grave at approximately 11:20 a.m. Saturday containing a set of human remains which they believe belong to the West Hartford teen.
The West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Charleston will confirm the information once an autopsy is completed.
Officials, who had searched an area of about 130 acres, said the remains were located in a heavily wooded area not far from the Golden Acres area near Augusta in Hampshire County, WV, where Johnny had been staying.
“The area of the recovery was extremely difficult to access due to heavy underbrush,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
Johnny was a past participant in the West Hartford Youth Baseball and Basketball leagues.
Family, friends, and former teachers took to Facebook Saturday morning as information about the teen’s death was shared by some family members, prior to the official confirmation from law enforcement.
Beatrice Adams of West Hartford, Johnny Benjamin-Adams’ aunt, posted the tragic news on her Facebook page early Saturday morning. The family had offered a reward of $10,000, later increased to $20,000, for information leading to the discovery and safe return of Johnny, who was reported missing on July 12.
“So very sorry for this awful tragedy. My heart goes out to the entire family. There are no words for such a loss,” one person posted.
A GoFundMe campaign had been established by relative Christina Sanchez in order to raise money for the search, and as of Saturday had raised more than $8,000. An update was posted following the news of Johnny’s death, indicating that the funds would be donated to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Polly Klaas Foundation.
West Hartford Superintendent of Schools Tom Moore said Saturday that counselors will be available and communication will be forthcoming from King Philip Principal Joy Wright and Hall Principal Dan Zittoun.
“I and the entire West Hartford Public Schools family are devastated by the loss of one of our children. Johnny was loved at King Philip by those who were fortunate enough to get to know him,” Moore said.
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