Va. Tech Murder Suspect Found Hiding in Briar Patch

A manhunt for an escaped jail inmate sought in the slayings of a sheriff's deputy and a hospital security guard ended with the discovery of the fugitive hiding in a briar patch near the Virginia Tech campus.

The campus was shut down for hours during the search Monday, the first day of classes, with police sharpshooters posted on school roofs and students told to stay indoors.

The fugitive, William Morva, a homeless man, was a familiar figure around the campus. He never wore shoes and liked to talk about going deer hunting so he could "be one with nature," said Madigan Milford, a Tech student from Berryville who worked at a downtown coffee shop.

Morva, 24, was charged with capital murder, use of a firearm in a felony, escape and felony assault on a police officer in the death of hospital security guard Derrick McFarland. Charges were pending in the death of Montgomery County Sheriff's Cpl. Eric E. Sutphin.

Morva, who had been jailed while awaiting trial on charges of attempting to rob a store, escaped early Sunday from a hospital about two miles from campus where he had been taken for treatment of a sprained wrist and ankle.

More coverage available in's Crime Center.

Police said Morva overpowered a deputy at the hospital, took the deputy's gun and shot McFarland, who was unarmed. The deputy was in stable condition with a concussion and other injuries.

Authorities said they suspect Morva then shot Sutphin early Monday when the officer got close to him on a hiking and biking trail near the Virginia Tech campus.

Hundreds of police scoured the 2,600-acre campus as Virginia Tech Vice President Kurt Krause canceled classes for the school's 26,000 students and sent some 6,000 professors and other workers home.

Monday afternoon, an officer found Morva on the second pass through a thick briar patch, 150 yards from where Sutphin was shot.

Morva was barefoot and wore only shorts, interim Blacksburg Police Chief Kim Crannis said. He would not say what Morva had been doing since the shooting or whether he had contacted anyone or been spotted by any civilians.

People familiar with Morva around the campus were shocked by his arrest.

"I thought he was weird," Milford said. "I would even say he was crazy, but harmless crazy."

Police Officer M.L. Haynie said Morva had never been in trouble with the law until he was charged with the attempted robbery last year. His trial on that charge had been scheduled to begin Wednesday.

Visit's Crime Center for complete coverage.