Family finds disappointment, rather than answers, in courtroom
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Members of Kareem Hunter's family packed into a courtroom in Kanawha Magistrate Court hoping for answers from a young woman they once called friend now accused of murder.
They left empty handed Thursday but still had hope that Kareem, 28, would be found.
Linda Hunter, Kareem's mother, was disappointed that Kelsey Marie Legg, 20, waived her preliminary hearing. The case now will be transferred to Kanawha Circuit Court where it will be presented to a grand jury.
Legg is accused of luring Kareem to her Marmet apartment late last month with plans to have him kidnapped, but detectives believe he was killed there instead. She's charged with kidnapping and murder.
She did not appear in court Thursday and remains at South Central Regional Jail where she is being held without bond.
Hunter had hoped to get a look at the young woman who had on multiple occasions eaten with her family and gone shopping with them but now stands accused of murdering her son.
Ten days ago, she drove six hours from her home in Hampton, Va., to Charleston to be here as the investigation progressed. She called it the longest and hardest six hours of her life.
She was disappointed because she had hoped Legg would have something to say.
"I just wanted to ask Kelsey why, that's all, and what happened," she said standing outside of the Kanawha County Judicial Annex. "I think she holds all the answers. I really believe she's the only one at this point who can tell us what happened.
"I just hope she will."
Kareem was last seen on Sept. 23. Hunter described her son as sweet and funny.
"Everybody liked him," she said. "He would never want to hurt anybody.
"He was kind. I just don't understand it, I just don't."
Charleston detectives investigating Kareem's disappearance went to Legg's 83rd Street apartment on Oct. 2 to look for clues. They found what they believed to be the scene of a violent crime and called on Kanawha sheriff's detectives to get a search warrant.
A search of the apartment revealed that it had been cleaned and freshly painted. Legg also apparently laid new carpet. Investigators still found large suspected bloodstains throughout the apartment and blood spatter on the ceiling.
A disturbance at the apartment was reported to Metro 911 on Sept. 23. Matt Legg, the suspect's brother, told detectives that he heard an altercation in Kelsey's apartment that night and later saw two men carry Kareem Hunter's dead body out of the building and then place him into a car trunk.
Surveillance video from Lowe's home improvement store in Kanawha City showed Legg in the store with two men on Sept. 24 buying paint and then again in the store with one man buying a roll of carpet.
Cpl. Brian Humphreys, a spokesman for the Kanawha Sheriff's Department, said one of the men who accompanied Legg to the store was not believed to be involved with Hunter's disappearance and only helped remodel her apartment.
Detectives still are looking for others involved but also remain vigilant in their search for Kareem's body. Humphreys said Thursday his body still had not been located.
"My emotions are just all over the place," Hunter said. "Some days are easier than others. Some days I feel hopeful and then there's those days that I don't.
"All I know is it's been many days that's passed by and each day that goes by is going to make it harder and harder to find him. It's a rollercoaster right now for me."
She's known Legg for more than five years and said the woman was friends with Kareem and also was close to her nieces. She said she'd never known Legg to have a problem with Kareem.
Hunter said she remembered Legg "just being a teenager," laughing and joking with her nieces or listening to music.
"She seemed like a pretty good kid, as far as I knew her," Hunter said softly.
Tammie Tanner, Kareem's cousin, babysat him when he was young and remained close with him in adulthood.
"He has such a big heart," Tanner said. "I don't know why anyone would want to hurt him. He would do anything for you."
She also knows Legg. She said Legg had gone to dinner with her and other family members only a few weeks ago.
"That whole time she's sitting at the table with us and plotting to hurt someone we love," Tanner said. "We just want his body back. If he is dead, we just want to be able to bury him.
"I don't, at this point, even care why she did it. I just want to be able to bury him and lay him to rest."
Yvette Parks, Kareem's aunt, said there still are too many unanswered questions.
"I really wish the hearing hadn't been waived today," Parks said. "I wanted to get a chance to see this individual, to look her in the face because I would love to know why."
Hunter said Kareem has four children, three boys and a daughter. His daughter is 7-years-old and was his "whole world," his mother said.
The girl now is in Virginia. She asked Hunter and her grandfather to come to West Virginia to find her daddy, Hunter said.
"I won't be leaving any time soon," Hunter said. "I'm going to stay in West Virginia for the duration of this so I can get some answers."
Anyone with information can contact the Kanawha Sheriff's Department at 304-357-0169 or leave a tip on their website at www.kanawhasheriff.us. All tipsters can remain anonymous. Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at email@example.com or 304-348-4850.