Did a Deathbed Confession Lead to Discovery of Remains of Mom and Daughter Who Vanished 24 Years Ago?

Investigators say an 80-year-old West Virginia man confessed to a double homicide just hours before he died on Monday

<p>FBI</p> Natasha


Natasha 'Alex' Carter

A 24-year-old murder mystery is believed to have been solved this week after police in West Virginia say an 80-year-old man confessed to the 2000 killing of a mother and her daughter while on his deathbed.

West Virginia State Police and federal investigators said at a news conference this week that Larry Webb confessed to shooting and killing Susan Carter and her young daughter Natasha “Alex” Carter in 2000. Their bodies were discovered buried on his property about six hours after Webb had a medical emergency and died, according to local outlet WVNS.

WVNS reported that Susan, 41, and Alex, 10, were last seen on Aug. 8, 2000.

Investigators had been zeroing in on Webb and conducted searches at his home in 2022 and 2023, discovering a bullet lodged in the wall of the bedroom where Alex was staying, according to local outlet WSAZ. The bullet had blood on it, which was later determined to be Alex's DNA.

Webb was indicted for Alex’s murder last October, CBS News reported.

At a news conference Tuesday, West Virginia State Police officials and FBI Supervisory Special Agent Tony Rausa described the events that led up to Webb’s confession on Monday before he died and told investigators where to find their bodies.

“It was a detailed, undeniable, unconflicted confession," Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hatfield said at Monday’s news conference, according to local outlet WCHS. "The confession aligned with the investigative efforts and the evidence collected.”

Webb told police he shot and killed Susan before then shooting and killing her daughter Alex in a bedroom in order to avoid there being a witness to the initial murder, Rausa said. The agent said Webb then described wrapping their bodies in bed linens and keeping the bodies in his home for two days while he dug what Rausa described as “a shallow grave” in his backyard.

CBS reported that Susan and Alex were staying with Webb while Susan was in the midst of an intense custody battle with the girl’s father. According to the outlet, prosecutors alleged that Webb became upset with Susan when he noticed money had gone missing. A violent fight broke out, culminating in Webb shooting Susan, and later her 10-year-old daughter, to death.

<p>WVNS 59News/Youtube</p> Larry Webb

WVNS 59News/Youtube

Larry Webb

The girl’s father, Ricky Lafferty, also spoke at a news conference Monday and later told local outlet WKTV that he felt “sadness, happiness [and] relief” upon finally receiving an official confirmation that his daughter had been murdered.

“You’re happy they found her but you’re sad of the circumstances of her not being alive,” Lafferty told the local outlet, adding, “She was an exceptional kid, a beloved kid.”

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Lafferty said he spent years putting up missing persons flyers around town and looking for his daughter.

“I was putting them everywhere,” he noted, adding, “I would look in the ditch lines. I would search everything. Everybody I talked to, I would mention it and I would bring it up: ‘Have you heard or seen anything?’ “

Police said it took three days to dig through Webb’s backyard and find the bodies.

“As a father to two daughters myself, I can tell you I can think of no worse situation to be in,” Rausa said, adding, “Mr. Lafferty, please accept my most heartfelt condolences for your loss and please accept my most heartfelt apology that in law enforcement we couldn’t have come to this sooner.”

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