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Prosecutor alleges Kiser stalked wife before her death as judge denies bond

Crystal Kiser

The body of Crystal Kiser, who was reported missing by relatives on Aug. 11, was located Sept. 6, 2019 in Jackson County. Her husband, James Michael Kiser, has been charged with first-degree murder after telling deputies he killed his wife.

A Kanawha circuit judge on Monday denied bond for a Jackson County man accused of killing his wife last summer.

Judge Duke Bloom said given the serious nature of the accusations against James Michael Kiser, 40, he would not allow Kiser to be released on bond or home confinement from South Central Regional Jail. Kiser’s children could be witnesses at his trial, another reason Bloom cited for keeping Kiser in jail.

Crystal Kiser, 37, was missing for about a month before James Kiser led Kanawha County sheriff’s deputies to her body in Kentuck, about 25 miles north of Charleston, in early September.

At Monday’s hearing, James Kiser’s mother and his boss testified that they trusted Kiser, even though Kiser had lied to them about his wife’s disappearance.

Betty Kiser testified that her son and his wife had a good relationship, even though Crystal Kiser filed domestic violence petitions against James Kiser in 2003 and 2007. In one of the petitions, she reported her husband had choked her, assistant Kanawha prosecutor Don Morris said.

Morris also noted that James Kiser was convicted of domestic battery in Fayette County in 1998 for hitting his then-girlfriend in the head with a rock. He was originally charged with malicious assault, but pleaded guilty to domestic battery as part of a plea deal, Morris said.

Because of the conviction, James Kiser was not permitted to own a gun, but he bought one in 2015 after lying on the application to do so, Morris said.

“He cannot be trusted,” Morris said. “He lied to his own family. He’s lied on an application for the purchase of a firearm. He has a prior history of violence not only with this victim, but with at least one other woman.”

Defense attorney George Cosenza noted that James Kiser talked with sheriff’s deputies on Sept. 5 and gave incriminating statements, but did not flee the area after agreeing to turn himself in to deputies the next day.

“If there was any time that he was going to leave, when he was at risk to harm himself, leave the state or the country, it would’ve been after that session that evening when he made those incriminating statements,” Cosenza said. “But what did he do? He stayed right there in Jackson County like he said he would do.”

According to a criminal complaint filed by Kanawha Sheriff’s Detective M.P. Knapp in Kanawha Magistrate Court, James Kiser told police he killed Crystal Kiser at her grandmother’s home in Sissonville, and buried her in a shallow grave in Kentuck.

Crystal Kiser had told her husband she wanted a divorce, and was staying at her grandmother’s home, Morris said Monday. He said the day Crystal Kiser was allegedly killed, surveillance footage showed James Kiser driving past her grandmother’s home several times.

“It would be our position that he was actually stalking the victim, trying to make sure where the victim was, who she was with,” Morris said.

He said Monday he intends to present James Kiser’s case to a grand jury once he receives an autopsy report from a forensic anthropologist in Tennessee.

The prosecutor said there were no injuries on Crystal Kiser’s skull, the latest in a series of inconsistent statements from James Kiser.

Kiser allegedly told Knapp that he and his wife had an argument on Aug. 10 at her grandmother’s home, during which he “lost it” and he and his wife “wrestled,” Knapp said in the criminal complaint.

“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, according to the complaint.

Reach Lacie Pierson at

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

@laciepierson on Twitter.

Funerals for Sunday, November 17, 2019

Ellis, Walter - 1 p.m., West Logan Missionary Baptist Church.

Evans, Robert - 2 p.m., Koontz Funeral Home, Hamlin.

Hess, Steven - 6 p.m., Grace Church of the Nazarene, South Charleston.

Holmes, Buddy - 2 p.m., Elizabeth Baptist Church, Charleston.

Jeffrey Jr., Algie - 2 p.m., Stevens Chapel Methodist Church, Lake.

Mace, Elma - 2 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation Inc., Arnoldsburg.

Meadows II, Richard - 2 p.m., Central Christian Church, Huntington.

Messinger, John - 2 p.m., Davis Funeral Home, Clarksburg.

Reynolds, Gladys - 1 p.m., Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

Smith, Rosie - 2 p.m., Morris Funeral Home, Cowen.

Sykes, Teresa - 2 p.m., Winfield Church of the Nazarene.