Man accused of abducting teen, beating her until miscarriage

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — A 20-year-old West Virginia man is accused of abducting a teenager, holding her hostage for about a year, impregnating her and beating her so severely that she miscarried.

News outlets report Brian Merchant-Jones is in custody on charges including murder and kidnapping. Court records say the juvenile girl had been a runaway since March 2018 and told authorities last week that she had been with Jones the entire time. She said Jones assaulted her almost daily and limited her contact with the outside world.

She said he impregnated her in the early months of her abduction and later beat her so severely, including kicking her in the abdomen, that she miscarried.

She told police she went to a home in Rivesville and buried the fetus. Law enforcement carried out a search at the property she described and recovered the remains.

According to investigators, Jones also required any phone conversations she had to be on speaker phone so he could listen in.

In addition, the girl said she was moved to several different places in Marion County throughout her abduction. At one point while Merchant-Jones was held in jail, she said he had associates check on her to make sure she didn't leave, at the threat of severe physical harm.

One particular incident she described was from February when she said Merchant-Jones beat her until she urinated, choked her until she lost counsciousness, and hit her in the back of the head with a 40-ounce beer bottle.

She said she was also beaten just before her interview with authorities.

It's unclear if Merchant-Jones has a lawyer.