MARION, Va. — A Marion man has been indicted on a murder charge in the death of a woman whose body was found in a home that caught fire in Marion in mid-March.
Jason Emory Whittaker, 38, was named a person of interest in the killing of 54-year-old Teresa Lynn Mathena Greer shortly after police discovered her body March 18. On Wednesday, Smyth County Commonwealth’s Attorney Roy Evans reconvened a grand jury, which handed down indictments charging Whittaker with murder, abduction, arson and cruelty to animals.
The investigation into Greer’s death began after police found her body inside a burned home on North Chestnut Street in Marion. The medical examiner’s office in Roanoke ruled her death a homicide in March but has not officially released a cause of death.
Police said Whittaker and Greer were acquaintances.
In a search warrant affidavit filed in Smyth County Circuit Court, Marion investigators said the woman was found lying face down in the bathroom area of the home with suspected blood around her head and face. A screwdriver and several swabs of the red stain were collected from the bathroom area, the document states.
There was also a long nylon strap wrapped around Greer’s neck that appeared to have been tied to a shower curtain rod, according to the affidavit, but it’s not clear whether strangulation was a contributing factor to her death.
Marion Police Chief John Clair said Greer had been staying at the home when she was killed, and a motive for the killing has not yet been determined.
Following a manhunt for Whittaker, police took him into custody in Surry County, North Carolina, where he was accused of attacking another man with a machete. He was also held on a fugitive-from-justice charge in an unrelated domestic assault charge out of Marion.
Whittaker remains in Surry County, where he faces a charge of assault with a deadly weapon. Clair said Evans, who could not immediately be reached for comment following the grand jury’s return of the indictments, will begin working with North Carolina authorities to bring him back to Virginia to stand trial.
According to a news release from the Marion Police Department, the indictments represent the culmination of two months of investigative work by the Police Department, the Smyth County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police.