Breaking news: Eric Abshire arrested
Eric Abshire will spend the holiday behind bars, according to Orange County Commonwealth's Attorney Diana Wheeler, who says that the fact Abshire was directly indicted by a grand jury coupled with the court's abbreviated holiday schedule means Abshire won't get his first day in Orange County circuit court until the new year, when he'll be asked if he's obtained representation or wishes to have an attorney appointed.
"The court usually hears criminal cases on Thursdays and Fridays," says Wheeler, but because of the holidays, January 6 was the "earliest possible hearing" for Abshire, who was ordered held without bond.
Abshire was arrested and charged with first degree murder and perjury late in the afternoon of Friday, December 17 as he drove south on Route 29 near the town of Culpeper, according to Virginia State Police Special Agent Mike Jones, who's headed the four-year investigation into the death of Abshire's wife, Justine Swartz Abshire. "He didn't seem surprised," says Jones, who adds that Abshire was taken into custody without a struggle.
Justine's parents, Steve and Heidi Swartz, have long expressed suspicion of their former son-in-law, who claimed to have found his wife's lifeless body on a dark country road sometime after 1am on November 3, 2006, the apparent victim of a hit-and-run.
"It's been 4 years, one month and two weeks since Justine died," the family announced in a December 18 statement. "Instead of living with her joy and beauty,we have been forced to live with the terror of murder in our family," they wrote. "As we take one step closer to Justice for Justine, we hope for the whole truth to come out and for justice to be served."
The case has been the subject of intense media scrutiny that included a one-hour ABC Primetime Crime episode that aired in July 2008. Abshire, who is being held at the Central Virginia Regional Jail in Orange, has long maintained his innocence. Most recently, he did not return the Hook's repeated calls for the November 11, 2010 Hook cover story on the case.
–Updated Tuesday, December 21 at 9:44am
Just over four years after he claimed to have found his wife's body on a winding country road in Orange County in the middle of the night, following what at first appeared to be a hit and run accident, Eric Abshire has been arrested and charged with first degree murder in the death of Justine Swartz Abshire.
"He was arrested this afternoon in Culpeper without incident," says Virginia State Police spokesperson Corrinne Geller, who says Abshire is being held at Central Virginia Regional Jail. According to a release, the arrest followed an indictment issued by a special grand jury. Abshire has also been charged with perjury.
Justine's death– and her parents' increasing suspicion of their son-in-law– have been the subject of intense media scrutiny that included a one-hour ABC Primetime Crime episode that aired in July 2008. Most recently, Abshire declined comment for the November 11, 2010 Hook cover story on the case.
Updated 8:10pm with perjury charge and special grand jury indictment.