Victim’s name released in gruesome Wellsburg murder, Chief of Police left with one question

Brooke County

'It seems like animals are treated better sometimes than human beings.'

WELLSBURG, W.Va. (WTRF) — Jeffery White, 27, has been formally charged with first-degree-murder and forced entry less than a day after a 69-year-old man was found dead in his home…  So, what transpired in that Wellsburg apartment in the early hours of Saturday?  

Police are piecing together a homicide that they have narrowed between 4 or 4:30 AM on 2645 Charles Street, but they didn’t get the call until 6:20 when a resident in the complex noticed something awry.   

Her (a neighbor’s) husband had come home from work at 6:30 AM, found the air conditioner out of the window, and he knew something was wrong.

Frances Dennison, Wellsburg neighbor an apartment above

Police say neighbors heard a single gunshot ring out that morning, but arriving on scene found its only victim was the glass of the front door, shattered. The true victim, now named as 69-year-old Daniel Gilchrist had been killed another way, far more vicious.  

The victim had tried to defend himself apparently by firing one shot. But it all happened so quick, but he was bludgeoned to death.

Rich Ferguson, Wellsburg Chief of Police

A pushed-in AC unit that sat in the window is how police believe the alleged assailant, Jeffery White, entered the home.  And steps away Gilchirst’s body lay lifeless in the kitchen.  

It was upon securing the scene that officers followed literal snow tracks that led to White, too close by to be coincidence… A lieutenant told 7NEWS White was “covered in blood.”  

Wellsburg’s Department sits on Charles Street ironically two minutes down the road. But instead of being taken to the hospital, Mr. Gilchrist’s body has been driven to Charleston.  

Doing an autopsy of course, checking with the cause of death at that time. And also, at that time when the officer got there and saw the scene, he called for an ambulance but it was too late.

Rich Ferguson, Wellsburg Chief of Police

While police think they have strong evidence tying White to the crime, as he now faces charges of first-degree-murder and forced entry… One question remains: Why?

Puts fear in people’s hearts. There is no fear right now. This was just a random thing. I don’t know exactly what was in the mind of this attacker, but it seems like animals are treated better sometimes than human beings. 

Rich Ferguson, Wellsburg Chief of Police

Part of a mantle is toppled over; a door covered with makeshift wood and the window now shut, this is the first murder Frances Dennison has ever experienced, and knowing the neighbor, she knew as ‘Danny’… It’s quite literally is too close to home.  

We lock our door during the day now.  

Frances Dennison, Wellsburg neighbor an apartment above

In the coming days White will face a preliminary hearing before this case could potentially go to trial. In the meantime, police will be searching for a motive.

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