Suspects in WJU student’s death due in court today

WHEELING – Craig Tyler Peacock and Jarrett Mathis Chandler are scheduled to make their first in-court appearances this afternoon since being charged with second-degree murder in the fatal beating of 21-year-old Wheeling Jesuit University student Kevin Figaniak.

Peacock, 22, of Clewiston, Fla., and Chandler, 24, of Winnfield, La., have been lodged in the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville, each on $1 million cash bond, since being arrested on Sept. 3.

Peacock and his attorney, Robert McCoid, are scheduled to appear before Ohio County Magistrate Joe Roxby at 1 p.m. today during a preliminary hearing. Chandler and his lawyers, public defenders Shayne Welling and Keith Hart, are scheduled to be in front of Roxby at 2 p.m.

Ohio County Assistant Prosecutors Shawn Turak and Gail Kahle will represent the state in the case.

The prosecution has subpeonaed Wheeling Police Detective Daniel Holmes to testify during the hearings. Holmes, who was an officer with the department for about 12 years before joining the investigations unit in January, authored the criminal complaint detailing the allegations against the defendants.

The detective on Wednesday said the search continues for at least one more suspect, based on the surviving victim’s statement that he and Figaniak were attacked by three or four white males in their mid-20s.

According to the complaint, Peacock and Chandler, who were living and working locally in the natural gas industry, followed Figaniak and another WJU student on Aug. 31 after the groups got into a verbal altercation outside of a bar near campus. Alcohol was a factor in the incident, detectives said.

Chandler reportedly told police he struck one of the victims and saw at least one of his friends fighting another man. Peacock allegedly admitted he struck someone as well, and “may have kicked the individual he was fighting with,” documents state. He also said he saw his friends fighting the two victims.

Both students were lying on the ground when the attackers left the scene. The surviving victim alerted a nearby resident, who contacted police. Figaniak suffered severe head trauma and was unresponsive when officers arrived. He died Aug. 31 at a Pittsburgh Hospital.

Figaniak’s funeral was held last weekend in his hometown of Parkasie, Pa. The university will hold a vigil at 9:30 p.m. today on the lawn near Donahue Hall. The vigil will be moved into the gym if it rains.