The man accused of shooting two men to death and seriously wounding another Monday in Danville pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday.
Appearing in Boyle District Court before Judge Jeff Dotson, Thomas Wayne Hager Jr. entered a plea of not guilty to two counts of murder and one count each of attempted murder and tampering with physical evidence. Hager will be held without bond at the Boyle County Detention Center until he appears in court again May 30 for a preliminary hearing.
Hager is accused of killing Mark Snyder, 21, of Waynesburg and Ted Sparks, 54, of Danville, the father of Snyder’s girlfriend, at Sparks’ home at 477 High St. on Monday afternoon. Police said Phillip White of Lancaster entered the home after 4:30 p.m. and saw Hager holding the two men at gunpoint on their knees. White jumped out a window and was shot several times as he ran for help. He is expected to survive.
According to court documents, Hager confessed to shooting the three men. The police report says Hager attempted to discard the murder weapon, which was later found in a Dumpster at the Village Apartments on Balasa Drive where he lived.
Hager's public defender, Susanne McCollough, said she plans to call his admission into question.
McCollough, who met with Hager on Tuesday at the jail, did not comment on whether or how the defense plans to refute the facts of the case. She said she expects to fully litigate the manner in which Hager's confession was obtained by police.
A sworn affidavit, filed by police to obtain a search warrant for Hager’s apartment and the blue Chevrolet truck he is believed to have driven to and from the murder scene, states that police received permission from Hager to search the residence and vehicle.
Court documents state Hager suffered a seizure and was taken to Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center while he was being transported from the Danville Police Department back to his residence.
While at Hager's apartment, police saw what appeared to be a blood-stained shirt next to a pair of blue jean shorts in plain view in the master bedroom.
Hager's girlfriend, Sammie Brown, told police Hager came home about 3 p.m. Monday, showered and discarded the clothing on the floor. He told her he had killed three people, including a man named Ted and placed the gun in a black garbage bag in a community Dumpster, the affidavit states.
Brown also apparently was told that “Ted” owed Hager money.
Danville Police Chief Tony Gray has said the killings were drug-related but not the direct result of a drug buy or a robbery. He said authorities are investigating the exact role prescription pills have in the case.
The affidavit states that Sparks' daughter told police her father had a dependency on a prescription medication.
Hager apparently had been living at the Village Apartments for several months but had previously lived in Hustonville, where his wife Crystal Hager died at their Fairlane Avenue home in January from an apparent accidental overdose on prescription medication.
Lincoln County Coroner Farris Marcum said Wednesday the toxicology report confirmed autopsy findings that Crystal Hager, 32, had died from acute and chronic mixed substance intoxication. Marcum said the death was ruled accidental and medical records backed up that Crystal Hager had prescriptions for all of the medications found in her system.
At the time of the death, Thomas Hager, who was listed on the death certificate as the husband, told police he had been taking a nap when he awoke and couldn't find his wife. He said he went to look for her at her mother’s house nearby and found Crystal Hager on the floor when he returned to the residence.