LATEST: Couple charged with faking death to re-schedule preliminary hearing

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — 12:30 p.m. Friday, June 12, 2020: A preliminary hearing was scheduled Friday, June 12, 2020 for the couple accused of faking a death.

According to Magistrate Rick Jones, Rodney and Julie Wheeler did not qualify for a court-appointed attorney because the couple makes too much money. They now have to re-apply for an attorney and the preliminary hearing will be re-scheduled as well.

Stick with 59News as we continue to follow this developing story.


GRANDVIEW, WV (WVNS) — 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 3, 2020: An arraignment hearing was held on Wednesday, June 3 for Rodney and Julie Wheeler. They went before Magistrate Randy Humphrey in a video arraignment from the Southern Regional Jail.

Rodney and Julie Wheeler were each given a $100,000 bond with a condition of home confinement. The home confinement request was made by Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller.


9 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, 2020: A woman who was the focus of a days-long search and her husband are facing numerous charges, including fraud.

On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, West Virginia State troopers arrested Julie Wheeler and her husband, Rodney, after determining the couple faked a missing person complaint.

On Sunday, Julie was reported missing from the main overlook at the Grandview area of the New River Gorge National River by Rodney and the couple’s 17-year-old son. Several local, city, county, state, federal and private agencies searched extensively for her.

Troopers said Julie was found “alive and well” two days later while they were searching her home on the suspicion of foul play. When brought in for questioning, investigators said Julie admitted she was never at Grandview.

Julie and Rodney are both charged with Fraudulent Schemes, Conspiracy, False Information to West Virginia State Police, False Emergency Incident, Willful Disruption of a Governmental Process, Obstructing an Officer and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor.

The two are now in jail. They will be arraigned in Raleigh County Magistrate Court Wednesday morning.

Stick with 59 News as this story continues to develop.


GRANDVIEW, WV (WVNS)– 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, 2020: State Police confirmed that Julie Wheeler, who was reported missing at the Grandview overlook in the New River Gorge National River was found alive. She was located by Troopers following an extensive search.

Details on the situation are limited. Investigators said she is alive and well. No further information was released due to the investigation being open and ongoing.


12:51 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, 2020: The name of a woman who is missing in the New River Gorge was released on Tuesday afternoon. Rangers with the National Park Service told 59News she is 43-year-old Julie Wheeler.

Crews are still on scene conducting a ground search. The area they are covering is wider than what they were previously searching.

59News has a crew on the scene with searchers and will bring you more details as they become available.


GRANDVIEW, WV (WVNS)4:30 p.m. Monday, June 1, 2020: The ground search for the missing woman at the Grandview overlook in the New River Gorge National River is suspended until tomorrow morning Tuesday, June 2, 2020. That is according to officials with the National Park Service.

The National Guard is using a helicopter to search for the missing woman. 59News is told they are using an infrared gun to search for heat sources.

59News has a crew on the scene with searchers and will bring you more details as they become available.


GRANDVIEW, WV (WVNS) — 8 a.m. Monday, June 1, 2020: The search for a missing woman resumed on Monday morning. Information on the 43-year-old woman’s identity has not been released. Investigators said she potentially fell from the overlook at Grandview in the New River Gorge National River.

59News has a crew on the scene with searchers and will bring you more details as they become available.


5:30 a.m. Monday, June 1, 2020, UPDATE: The search for a missing woman at the Grandview overlook of the New River National River is called off for the night.

We’re told rescue crews had to call off the search at 1:30 Monday morning after dispatchers tell us a woman potentially fell from an overlook at Grandview National Park.

Jan Care Ambulance, State Police, the National Park Service, Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office, Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, and Beaver Volunteer Department responded.

Details are still extremely limited at this time. Stick with 59News as we continue to follow this developing story.


GRANDVIEW, WV (WVNS) — Crews are on the scene at the Grandview overlook of the New River National River after it was reported that a woman fell from an overlook. Raleigh County dispatchers tell us the call came in just after 8:30 p.m.

Dispatchers said as of nine Sunday evening, units were still looking for the victim. A witness told us rope rescue teams and drones are aiding in the search.

This is a developing story. We will continue to update you as more details become available.

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