By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Sept. 26 — Luray police officers arrested a Spotsylvania County man on Monday after he barricaded himself inside a home near two local schools in town with a 15-year-old female that was reported missing.
“At approximately 5 a.m. Monday (Sept. 26), the Virginia State Police, Town of Luray Police Department, and Page County Sheriff’s Office responded to a residence in the 300 block of Luray Avenue in the Town of Luray for an emergency call concerning a barricaded subject,” reads a press release issued by state police at 4:19 p.m. on Monday. “A male and a female suspect were taken into custody without incident. There was never any immediate threat to the public.”
Around 3 a.m. local authorities were contacted by the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office about a missing and endangered adult female who had been unaccounted for since Saturday — and who now appeared to be in Luray, after license plate recognition and cell phone “pinging” investigative techniques brought the search to the intersection of Luray Avenue and Fourth Street.
“We received information that this individual may be in danger and with individuals that could be dangerous,” Luray Police Chief Bow Cook told Page Valley News on Tuesday.
Savannah Lee Emigh, 22, of Mineral, Va. had been reported missing by her mother two days earlier. Police believed that she was possibly “being held against her will,” according to Chief Cook.
After securing the perimeter around the house and obtaining a search warrant, law enforcement made several attempts to get the occupants inside the home to come out. One of the occupant’s was believed to be Jeffrey Wright of Spotsylvania County.
“We had reason to believe that Savannah was in the house and a man matching Mr. Wright’s description was in the house,” Chief Cook said.
The state police tactical team responded to the scene, along with the Culpeper Police Department Drone Team. After exhausting every means available to coax the occupants out of the home, law enforcement decided to breach the residence.
“After several hours of attempts to get them to come out, which they refused to do, they were located in the attic,” Chief Cook said.
However, while Wright was taken into custody, the second individual found in the attic was not Savannah — it was a 15-year-old female who had been reported missing two months ago from another Virginia locality.
At this point, Wright has only been charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle as the investigation continues. Details about the relationship between Wright and the teenager, as well as why they refused to leave the residence and barricaded themselves inside is still being sorted out by investigators.
Chief Cook stated that the closure of Page County Public Schools was fortunate on Monday — a planned teacher work day — as the large presence of law enforcement and first responders for several hours about one bock from Luray Middle School and Luray Elementary School would have created more panic and additional traffic.
“The Virginia State Police Tactical Team is in the process of executing a search warrant at the 300 block of Luray Avenue in the Town of Luray,” the state police stated in a press release at 9:43 a.m. on Monday. “There are several emergency personnel on the scene, but that is just precautionary. There is no immediate threat to the public.”
An elderly woman next door was evacuated from her home, and law enforcement notified “immediate neighbors” in close proximity of the situation.
“I want to thank neighbors in the community for being cooperative and respectful,”Chief Cook said. “We appreciate the community’s support for allowing us to do our jobs.”
Police did use two “flash bangs” during the process, but no shots were fired and no one was injured. As a precautionary measure, the Luray Volunteer Fire Department, the Luray Rescue Squad and Page County EMS were all on standby.
“We systematically did everything to protect officers and the public. We did everything by the book,” Chief Cook said on Tuesday. “We methodically executed the search warrant by all available means to us.”
No further details were offered as the investigation continues.