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Bland County grand jurors return indictments in slaying

Bland County grand jurors return indictments in slaying

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Accused in the slaying of a Tazewell County man whose body was found underneath a Bland County trailer, a mother and son were indicted in Bland County on Monday after police and prosecutors changed their theory of where the crime took place.

Justin Michael Hackler, 25, of Bastian and Leslie Raquel Hackler, 48, of Tazewell were charged in direct indictments handed down on Monday in Bland County Circuit Court.

Justin Hackler was indicted on charges of second-degree murder, using a firearm in commission of a felony, conspiring to conceal a body and concealing a body. Leslie Hackler was charged with conspiring to conceal a body and concealing a body.

The two – along with Joshua Hackler of Tazewell – were arrested earlier this summer in the slaying of 45-year-old David Allen Hayes of Gratton. A second-degree murder charge against Joshua Hackler has since been dropped, and he was freed from jail on Sept. 11.

“After numerous interviews and as more evidence started coming to light, it was evident that the murder actually occurred in Bland County,” Sheriff Jason Ramsey said on Monday.

Police found Hayes’ body under Justin Hackler’s Bastian trailer on July 10 after getting a search warrant to look for an illegal bear kill. Police said Justin Hackler had made statements about killing a black bear and burying it underneath his residence.

Hayes, who has family in Tazewell and Bland counties, had been reported missing since June 29.

Police believe he was killed with a small-caliber weapon.

While the two brothers were apprehended shortly after the body was discovered, Leslie Hackler – wanted on a charge of conspiring to commit second-degree murder -- wasn’t caught until last month.

U.S. marshals found her Aug. 18 in an Augusta, Georgia, hotel, and she was extradited to Virginia later last month.

Tazewell County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Plaster, who will act as a special prosecutor on the new Bland County indictments, said the current Tazewell County charges against both suspects will be dropped.

Both mother and son are being held without bond. Leslie Hackler has a Dec. 16 preliminary hearing in Bland County General District Court on an unrelated felony drug possession charge.

Jeffrey Simmons can be reached at 228-6611, extension 19, or jsimmons@wythenews.com.

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