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Jackson County man charged with murder in wife's death

Crystal Kiser

The body of Crystal Kiser, who was reported missing by relatives on Aug. 11, was located Friday in Jackson County. Her husband, James Michael Kiser, has been charged with first-degree murder after telling deputies he killed his wife.

A Jackson County man told investigators his wife died after she hit her head, but he gave two versions of where and how she struck her head during an interview with deputies this week.

Kanawha County sheriff’s deputies on Friday charged 40-year-old James Michael Kiser, of Kenna, with first-degree murder after he told deputies on Thursday he killed Crystal Kiser at her grandmother’s home, in Sissonville, and buried her in a shallow grave in Kentuck, about a 40-minute drive north of Charleston.

Kiser was arraigned Friday afternoon in Kanawha Magistrate Court. He is incarcerated at the South Central Regional Jail. No bail had been set as of Friday evening.

Crystal Kiser’s relatives reported her missing on Sunday, Aug. 11. They told deputies they last knew her to be at her grandmother’s house along Lessie Lane, in Sissonville.

“The investigation that began that day has continued since and included reviewing several hundred hours of video from businesses and residences,” Sgt. B.D. Humphreys said Friday in a news release. “We are grateful for those who willingly allowed detectives to view their surveillance. Electronic records were also reviewed, and several hundred hours of interviews and searches were conducted.”

James Kiser talked with deputies on Thursday, and he told them he traveled to the home of Crystal Kiser’s grandmother on Aug. 10, where the couple began to argue, Detective M.P. Knapp said in the criminal complaint filed in Kanawha Magistrate Court.

James Kiser said he “lost it,” and he and his wife “wrestled.”

“He first said Ms. Kiser hit her head on something inside [the grandmother’s residence],” Knapp wrote in the complaint. “Later in the interview, Mr. Kiser said Ms. Kiser hit her head on a rock outside the residence and stopped breathing.”

James Kiser told deputies “he became afraid” after realizing he’d killed his wife, and he placed her body in his vehicle and buried her in a remote location of Jackson County. He reportedly led detectives to the location of the shallow grave where the body of Crystal Kiser was located.

On Friday, forensic investigators with the Kanawha Bureau of Investigations, along with investigators for the West Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office, exhumed Crystal Kiser’s body, Humphreys said.

Humphreys said the investigation into Crystal Kiser’s disappearance included cooperation among relatives of James and Crystal Kiser, as well as the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, Kanawha Bureau of Investigations, St. Albans Police Department, South Charleston Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, West Virginia K-9 Search and Rescue, the Kanawha Sheriff’s K-9 Unit, the West Virginia Division of Forestry and the Charleston Area Medical Center Security Department.

Reach Lacie Pierson at

lacie.pierson@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1723 or follow

@laciepierson on Twitter.

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