May 20, 2024

FRONT ROYAL – Despite a thorough initial investigation by the Front Royal Police Department the alleged break-in at the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority office (EDA), reported on May 18, 2017, remains unsolved.

Detectives processed the EDA offices as they routinely do when a breaking and entering has been reported—photographs were taken, surfaces were dusted for fingerprints, all doors and windows were checked for signs of forced entry and documented with photos (there were no signs of forced entry) and all subjects present were interviewed on scene.

The first three parts of this series covered a 99-minute interview with then-executive director Jennifer McDonald. During the sit-down with Investigators Landin Waller and Crystal Cline, McDonald cited a list of people whom she felt might be responsible for the alleged break-in, none of whom were ever established as substantive suspects by Investigators Waller or Cline. She also told the investigators that an EDA board member, Ron Llewellyn, had brought up the subject of files missing from her office.

Investigators found that interesting, as McDonald had previously reported that nothing was missing in the reported incident.

Officer Waller invited Llewellyn to have a conversation about the alleged missing files. Llewellyn’s interview is remarkable in several ways. Some highlights of that interview:

  • 14:27: Llewellyn states that he went to former Town Councilman and Vice-Mayor Shae Parker’s Hanna Signs business office after hours to pick up an order, and saw a group of people meeting there that included Parker, former Town Manager Mike Graham, former Town Mayor Stanley Brooks, former Town Councilman Tom Conkey and current Town Councilwoman Bébhinn Egger. Parker has stated to Royal Examiner that this meeting never occurred; Miss Egger stated that she has never even been in Parker’s place of business. Graham, Brooks and Conkey have also stated, on the record, that this meeting never occurred, at Parker’s shop or any other location.
  • 20:46: Llewellyn says the EDA board believed that some in the community weren’t supportive of McDonald, so they got together and voted as a group to give her a pay increase to “reaffirm” the board’s belief in her.
  • 30:34: Llewellyn states that Congressman Goodlatte called McDonald, stating “you’ve got to resolve this” because this reporter – then the WZRV radio station News Director – had called Goodlatte’s office inquiring about ITFederal’s ability to accomplish what the congressman had claimed in the way of financial investment ($40 million) and job creation (600-plus). Llewellyn states that McDonald called the station owner, at Goodlatte’s prompting. (Within days, perhaps coincidentally, I was fired May 13, 2016 by station owner Andrew Shearer by telephone, after completing the noon news and a daily talk show, with no reason provided.) WZRV news staffer Roger Bianchini’s inquiries to ITFederal officials on the same topic were abruptly shut down by Shearer later the same day.
  • 38:38: Llewellyn says the Front Royal Police Department did not take the (alleged) break-in “seriously” and that “it never hurts to have another set of eyes on something” regarding the hiring of a private investigator by the EDA on July 17, 2017, according to a letter from then-board chairman Greg Drescher.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABEbazKyOxA[/embedyt]

Following the interview with this EDA board member, police would next interview John Costello, whom Llewellyn suggested had knowledge of the files reported missing by the EDA’s executive director.

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