Young Mother Slain On Wheeling Island

Photo by Casey Junkins Officers with the Wheeling Police Department are investigating a homicide by blunt force trauma to the head, which occurred Wednesday at this house at 309 S. Wabash St. on Wheeling Island.

WHEELING — Hearing the cries of a 2-year-old girl inside a Wheeling Island home late Wednesday, police officers entered the South Wabash Street residence and found the child’s mother, Rayna Shae Vaughan, dead as a result of blunt force trauma to the head.

“I am disgusted by this lack of compassion for human life,” Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said Thursday. “We will do our best to get justice for this victim and her child.”

Schwertfeger said Thursday it is “premature” to name suspects or persons of interest in the death, which the West Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office ruled a homicide. He also declined to comment on whether there were signs of forced entry to the home, a motive for the murder or the type of weapon used against the 21-year-old victim.

Schwertfeger said officers believe the victim knew her assailant or assailants. He believes Vaughan moved into the 309 S. Wabash St. home with her daughter within the last week.

“We are reviewing surveillance,” Schwertfeger said. “We are trying to learn who may have been there.”

Schwertfeger said the child suffered no physical injuries but was initially taken to Ohio Valley Medical Center for observation. He said officials with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources are now caring for the toddler.

Schwertfeger said this is Wheeling’s first homicide in 2018. He does not believe this was a random act — and he said the city, as a whole, is a relatively safe one.

“At the scene, I was very impressed with the skill and work ethic of our detectives and officers,” Schwertfeger said.

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