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Reports at the time of her death said Anne Faville, 52, died accidentally after choking on a piece of chicken. Anne Faville was a fifth-grade teacher in Salem.
Mark Ward Faville Jr.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
More than a decade after a couple's children accused their father of causing their mother's unexpected death, Montgomery County investigators have charged the man with murder.
Mark Ward Faville Jr., 70, was arrested outside his Roanoke County home without incident Wednesday and charged in the March 7, 2000, death of his wife, Anne "Mickey" Michelle Faville, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office Capt. Robert New said Thursday.
On that night, Montgomery County deputies went to the couple's home on Mount Tabor Road after reports of an unresponsive woman. Mickey Faville, 52, was taken to LewisGale Montgomery Regional Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Initial reports said she had choked on a piece of chicken while dining alone at home. But in February 2001, the sheriff's office began investigating the death as a homicide.
A news release from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office on Thursday said new evidence recently came to light and moved the case forward, leading to the first charges in the death of Faville, a beloved fifth-grade teacher at Salem's G.W. Carver Elementary School. Investigators said they could not release the new information at this time, but New said investigators were actively working the cold homicide case when they obtained it.
It is not the first accusation pointed at Faville, who goes by Ward. In 2002, the couple's three children filed a wrongful death suit against their father alleging that he drugged, beat and choked their mother, then stood by as she died of her injuries.
The couple married on Feb. 10, 1968, according to the suit, but had been experiencing marital difficulties. The suit said that Mickey Faville, on the night of her death, had decided to leave her husband because of "years of physical and mental abuse in most demeaning and perverted fashions."
Faville - who is retired from the Virginia Department of Transportation, New said - was never mentioned as a suspect in the police investigation until deputies and Virginia State Police personnel arrested him Wednesday. Still, his home was searched shortly after the death was deemed a homicide.
Faville, who had sold the Mount Tabor Road home by that time, was living in a townhome on Lovely Mount Drive in Radford when investigators arrived in February 2001 to execute a search warrant.
He was charged with obstruction of justice after police found him inside carrying a .38-caliber revolver. A judge took the case under advisement and Faville avoided jail time.
The wrongful death suit, in which his three children sought $6.32 million in damages, said Ward Faville received payments from the Minnesota Life Insurance Co. and Virginia Retirement System as a result of his wife's death.
In an August 2006 settlement, he agreed to turn over all of those payments - more than $476,000 - to his wife's estate, administrated by their daughter Holly Litos. In return, Litos and her siblings agreed to refrain from bringing further suits against their father in their mother's death. Ward Faville denied any fault in his wife's death.
The settlement prohibited the parties from disclosing its terms, but the settlement was publicly available in Montgomery County Circuit Court. One of the couple's children on Thursday said the family is not discussing the case at this time.
Mickey Faville started at G.W. Carver in 1983, teaching second grade. She soon moved to fifth grade, where former principal Trula Byington - now principal at West Salem Elementary School - said she made a lasting impression on her students.
Byington recalled days when middle and high school students in Salem were released early. On those days, Byington said, Faville's classroom was full of former students who wanted to show her their latest work in school newspapers or literary magazines. Through an enthusiasm for writing, Byington said, Faville steered students toward professions working with language.
"Out there today, there are many grown people who were influenced by her," Byington said.
Wayne Tripp, the superintendent of Salem's schools at the time of Faville's death, said she was known for her commitment to the students.
"Ms. Faville was a very fine teacher," he said, "Probably one of the best I have ever known."
She attended a program at Virginia Tech to improve her writing, Byington said, and brought the lessons back to pass along to her students. She cited it as one of many ways Faville strived to create better learning experiences.
When school officials learned of Faville's death in 2000, they struggled to cope.
"It was a very sad room," Tripp said of a staff meeting shortly after teachers received the news. "Mickey was a person who was well respected and cared for by her community there at Carver."
Even tougher was explaining the situation to Faville's students, Byington said. Her class soon penned tributes to their teacher.
"Each of them wrote memories of her and they hung them out in the hallway," Byington said. "That was probably one of the most inspiring things - seeing the wide variance of instances they recalled where she helped them."
The Salem Educational Foundation and Alumni Association awards a scholarship in Mickey Faville's name aimed at students who plan to attend a four-year college and study elementary education.
The sheriff's office said Ward Faville is being held without bond in the Western Virginia Regional Jail. Their investigation continues.
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Staff writer Tonia Moxley and staff researcher Belinda Harris contributed to this report.
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