July 14, 2024

James Edgar Callahan was arrested during a traffic stop in Front Royal early Tuesday morning. He's been charged with the 2012 murder of Strasburg resident Michael Allen Holober/ RSW photo

FRONT ROYAL, Va.– A Strasburg, Va. man was taken into custody early Tuesday during a traffic stop in Front Royal and charged with two felonies, first-degree murder and the concealment of a body. The charges are related to the identification of human skeletal remains found in Perry County, Pa. in 2014.

The victim has been identified as Michael Allen Holober; he would have been 45 at the time of his death. He was a resident of Strasburg. Online Virginia case information lists the date of Holober’s death as Oct.15, 2012.

James E. Callahan, 48, of Strasburg was arrested without incident on Sept. 26, according to Strasburg Police Chief Wayne Sager. He was transported to the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren (RSW) Regional Jail, where he is being held without bond.

Chief Sager told The Shaw Report in a telephone interview that the court files related to the case have been sealed. Despite the lack of information available to the public, Sager said he believed the accused murderer and the victim were acquaintances.

Pennsylvania State Police said this morning in a press conference that the victim had been identified using DNA from a distant relative. DNA comparison enabled investigators to determine that it was Michael Allen Holober’s remains discovered on May 27, 2014, on State Game Lands in Rye Township, Pa.

Officials examined the remains and determined that the victim was a white male, between 45-70 years of age and approximately 5’11”-6’6” tall. There was a single gunshot wound to the head. Efforts to identify the victim in 2014 failed, though the investigation remained open.

After languishing eight years as a cold case, Perry County District Attorney Lauren Eichelberger was awarded grant money to help identify the victim. She sent several items collected from the victim to a Texas crime lab, for a complete DNA analysis and genealogy study.

Pennsylvania officials determined that Holober was living in the Strasburg, Virginia area in 2012 and disappeared around that time. Police allege that Callahan transported Holober’s body to Pennsylvania where it was discarded in a heavily wooded area. In May 2014, the skeletal remains were found by a hiker. Because Pennsylvania officials determined that Holober was killed in a Strasburg residence, the case was handed over to the Strasburg Police Department.

The Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s Attorney presented the evidence to a grand jury, which handed up indictments on Sept. 13, 2023, for one felony count of first-degree murder and one felony count of disposing of a corpse.

Chief Wayne Sager stressed the teamwork between the two agencies as the reason this case is moving forward. In a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon, he said, “The Strasburg Police Department and the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) worked jointly to investigate the murder and traveled following leads on the case. It should be noted the amazing job that the PSP and the Perry County District Attorney’s Office did identifying and investigating this case.”

Sager shared some words of gratitude regarding his staff. “It has been a little stressful working on two murder cases at the same time, but we have a great team and department. All their efforts and hard work keeping our community safe and bringing justice to the victims and their families doesn’t go unnoticed. I am so proud of them!”

The Strasburg Police Department was assisted by the Pennsylvania State Police, the Texas Ranger Division, the Virginia State Police Tactical Team, the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, the Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Shenandoah County Emergency Communications Center, the Front Royal Police Department, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue.

Chief Sager stressed that the investigation into the case is still active, and anyone with information is encouraged to reach out to the SPD. Lieutenant Phillip Henry can be reached at 540-465-5230 or via email at [email protected].

According to online court records, Callahan is scheduled to appear in Shenandoah Circuit Court on Thursday, Sept. 28 at 2 PM, when the suspect will be appointed counsel.

If convicted of the murder charge, a Class 2 felony, Callahan could serve 5-40 years in a state penitentiary. The concealing a body charge, a Class 6 felony, has a sentence of 1-5 years in a state prison.

 

 

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