Thomas Dunbar, killer of Chastity Hamm and Shaela Lynn McCoy Abren, was sentenced in the Greenbrier County Circuit Court on Monday, Nov. 8.
The Monday hearing came about after Dunbar plead guilty to killing Hamm, with the formal charge of second-degree murder. In addition, Hamm’s mother, Christy Thomas, spoke during the hearing, saying “there’s no way that we can put into words the amount of grief and pain that losing our precious Chastity has caused us.”
In January 2018, Greenbrier County Sheriff Bruce Sloan and Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Via called a press conference, announcing that the investigation into the murder of Shaela Lynn McCoy Abren led to the discovery of the murder of Chastity Faye Hamm. Abren was found on Anthony Road near Blue Bend behind an uninhabited house around Jan. 18, 2018. During the investigation on Saturday, January 20, the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office discovered a second body in “a shallow grave in a wooded, mountainous area of the national forest property near Blue Bend.”
The subsequent investigation led to the October 2019 indictments against Dunbar and Amanda Serreno.
“[Thomas Dunbar] and [Serreno] attempted to slay, kill, and murder one Chasity F. Hamm by administering to [Hamm], intravenously, a combination of methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance, and insulin, with the intention of killing Hamm,” reads the indictment.
Dunbar was previously indicted for Shaela Lynn McCoy Abren’s murder in June 2018. Dunbar plead guilty to this in February 2019, receiving both a life sentence and the mercy of the court, allowing him to apply for parole after serving 15 years, with his release depending on the parole board.
When taking this plea deal, his attorney in the first case, Robert Dunlap, spoke in his place during the proceedings.
“What I get from [the people I spoke to] related to this case is that before my client spiraled into the world of unauthorized pharmaceuticals, he was a hard worker and an intelligent person,” Dunlap said in February 2019. “… The court has to weigh those things with the seriousness of the crime.”
The Monday hearing saw Dunbar face consequences, this time to the second-degree murder of Hamm. This plea deal saw both parties requesting the maximum possible sentence.
“The defendant has agreed to jointly recommend the maximum sentence for this, [running] consecutively to the life sentence that he is currently serving,” said Via.
Dunbar did not comment during sentencing, instead allowing his defense attorney Richard Gunnoe to speak on his behalf.
“I believe it’s sufficient to say that he has been very remorseful with me in our discussions,” said Gunnoe. “Obviously, he would have preferred this not to have happened. That having been said, he has accepted responsibility by virtue of his plea. We believe that the plea properly contemplates the seriousness of the situation and we believe the recommended setting is an appropriate resolution. Given the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense in Mr. Dunbar’s current circumstances, we would ask that the court sentence Mr. Dunbar pursuant to the recommendation.”
Greenbrier County Circuit Court Judge Robert Richardson agreed.
“Mr. Dunbar, you have been convicted of two heinous crimes. The taking of human life is the greatest wrong that can be perpetrated and I do not hesitate whatsoever to sentence you in this manner. … Under these circumstances, there is no other sentence that would be appropriate other than one of incarceration. I find that the sentence to which the parties have agreed as a recommendation to the court is, in fact, appropriate. It is accordingly ordered that the defendant shall be sentenced to confinement in the custody of the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation for a term of 40 years, the maximum sentence permitted for the crime of second-degree murder. That sentence shall run consecutively to the sentence that the defendant is now serving with regard to case number 18-F-70 [the murder of Abren].”
Christy Thomas, Hamm’s mother, spoke to the court regarding sentencing and on Dunbar’s impact on the family’s lives.
“Not only us, but it’s left her (two) children motherless and they’re the real victims here. … Her mother, dad, brother, sister, everybody that touched her has a tremendous loss. My desire would be, Mr. Dunbar, that you seek the Lord and seek forgiveness. Human forgiveness can’t do anything for you, but you need eternal. You need salvation. You need the Lord to soften your heart and save your soul, because the sentence that you’re facing now will be nothing to the sentence you’re facing in eternity. I pray that your mother never feels the pain that I do. “