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Crime News Breaking News

Two Women Who Disappeared After Possibly Witnessing A Murder Were Killed By The Accused, Authorities Allege

David Sanford Jr., John Black III and Monroe Merrell allegedly drove Danielle Tyler and Heather Grogg to the home of April Lynn Braner with the intention of permanently silencing them.

By Gina Tron
Four People Arrested In Connection With Fiery Murder

Two Maryland women with connections to a local murder have also been killed, according to a new criminal complaint. 

Danielle Tyler, 18, and Heather Grogg, 33, had both been missing since Apr. 6, according to FBI Pittsburgh press releases previously provided to Oxygen.com. A criminal complaint filed Monday now contends that both women were in fact murdered by some of the same people accused in another recent killing, according to the Carroll County Times.

April Lynn Braner, 37, of West Virginia, has been charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The complaint alleges that Braner knowingly allowed her Falling Waters home to be used for the killings of Tyler and Grogg. She’s also accused of providing plastic bags — the alleged murder weapons — to the other suspects. 

Maryland men David Sanford Jr., 26, John Black III, 22, and Monroe Merrell, 22 — who are charged with the murder of carpenter Jonathan Riddle — allegedly conspired with Braner to kill Tyler and Grogg following the slaying of Riddle a few weeks prior. Riddle was found stabbed, beaten and then set on fire in West Virginia on March 18.

Heather Grogg Danielle Tyler Pd

Sanford’s girlfriend Emily Day, 27, was also arrested in connection with Riddle’s death and charged with being an accessory before and after the fact. Investigators believe that Riddle visited Grogg, a friend of his, at the Westminster home of Sanford and Day the night before his body was found. A fight allegedly broke out that ultimately turned fatal. 

Grogg, a mother of four, was a live-in babysitter for Sanford and Day’s children. Tyler, a high school senior, was dating Merrell.

Merrell, Day, and Sanford allegedly drove Grogg and Tyler to Braner’s home on April 6 — advising the two women they would be safe there from criminal investigation into Riddle’s murder, the new complaint alleged. However, the trio had allegedly plotted to kill them there instead.

When they arrived at Braner's property, Sanford allegedly used a plastic bag to asphyxiate Tyler. When Braner realized she was still alive, Sanford then suffocated her until she died, the complaint alleges. 

April Braner Pd

Merrell lured Grogg away as Tyler was being killed and fatally shot her, the complaint also alleged.

The complaint does not specify if the remains of the women have been located, according to the Carroll County Times. 

Braner is being held without bond, as are the four suspects charged in Riddle's death. It is also unclear if the men charged in Riddle's death will face additional charges. It wasn't immediately clear if any of the suspects had attorneys able to comment on their behalf.

Monroe Sanford Black Pd

Sherry Tyler, Danielle Tyler’s grandmother and legal guardian, previously told Oxygen.com that Danielle went through a break-up in March before she began dating Merrell. She said that as Danielle began hanging out with him and a new group of friends, she grew more secretive. She began spending nights away from the home she shared with Sherry and her siblings. 

She was supposed to graduate this year, before the coronavirus pandemic pushed back commencement ceremonies. Sherry said Tyler had been taking a video production and photography class and aspired to a photography career. 

“I love her more than life itself,” Sherry told Oxygen.com.

Danielle Tyler

Grogg’s younger sister Brandie Hebb previously told Oxygen.com that she worried her sister may have witnessed Riddle’s murder — resulting in her being endangered. 

“It’s not like her to drop off the face of the earth,” she said after Grogg disappeared.

Grogg was a mother of four children: an 18-year-old, 16-year-old twins, and a 14-year-old.

Both Grogg's and Tyler's relatives have been distraught since their disappearance. 

“I’m glad that their families can have some closure now,” Riddle’s wife Diana Denrich Riddle told Oxygen.com on Tuesday.