Second suspect arrested in murder of Jackson County woman found dead in well

Rachel Berry
Jackson Newspapers
Virginia Marie Smith

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office arrested a second suspect in the murder of a Jackson County woman whose body was found Monday in a well.

Virginia Marie Smith, 29, of Charleston, was arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Cheyenne Johnson. 

Michael Smith, 41, of Alderson, was arrested Monday in Johnson's killing and is also facing a first-degree murder charge. Michael Smith and Virginia Smith aren't related but had been dating for a couple of weeks at the time of the murder, said Chief Deputy Greg Young with the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office. 

Michael Smith

An autopsy showed that Johnson was shot in the head, though the autopsy isn't completed. Young said Johnson had other wounds as well, although he couldn't provide more information on those during a press conference held Thursday. 

More:Body of missing Jackson County woman found in well after police say man admitted to murder

More:Friends and family members remember Cheyenne Johnson as kind and sweet

Johnson was reported missing last week and was last seen on April 29 near Cottageville. Deputies said they identified Michael Smith as a suspect the next day after receiving a tip about an overheard conversation concerning the murder of "Sunshine," which was Johnson's nickname. Earlier this month and prior to Johnson's murder, Michael Smith had been released from jail on parole.

Johnsons' body was recovered from a deepwater well on Monday afternoon and identified through tattoos. Additional confirmation will be conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Law enforcement noted Michael Smith said he shot Johnson in the back of the head and dumped her body in the well.

After interviewing a 10-year-old witness to the shooting, and despite Michael Smith's confession, deputies now believe Virginia Smith is the one who pulled the trigger, although they said Michael Smith was also involved in the shooting and will still be charged with first-degree murder. Authorities believe the murder occurred on April 29. 

Johnson was an acquaintance of the two suspects, Young said. Deputies are still working to identify a motive for the shooting. 

Breaking news reporter Rachel Berry can be reached at rberry@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @racheldberry.