The Mercer County Sheriff's Department was engaged in a search for the body of Rev. J. H. Keaton of Huntington who had disappeared during a trip to visit relatives in Princeton earlier that month. The Reverend had been missing for several weeks.
A break in the case came from an interview with an AWOL sailor named Willard Eugene Graham who had said that, "he had beat up the minister and left him for dead...somewhere in the hills of West Virginia...either in Mercer or Raleigh counties."
The minister's car was found parked in Graham's driveway when officers picked him up.
According to State Police Sgt. D. V. Lilly Graham admitted to throwing the minister out of the car somewhere between Beckley and Princeton.
Later that week, the body was recovered by a relative of Keaton, Robert Berry, a mile north of Oak Hill. The body lay about 60 feet from WV Highway 61 near some railroad tracks.