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Man Recorded Himself Murdering His 94-Year-Old Grandfather in the Woods of West Virginia and Sent Footage to Family Members, Investigator Testifies


A man allegedly recorded himself murdering his nearly century-old grandfather and sent that footage to family members, an investigator testified. This account laid out in clear detail how and why Seth Ellis Donald, 36, allegedly killed Maurice Sill, 94, in Cabell County, West Virginia.

Authorities at first did not think the death was suspicious. Police and paramedics responded to the Woodlands Retirement Community on June 6, 2019 after Donald made a call about the death, Sgt. Jason Davis testified in a preliminary hearing Thursday, according to The Herald-Dispatch.

The grandson allegedly said he took Sill into the woods to nature-watch, but the man had a medical episode, falling face first to the ground. The grandson said he tried to save Maurice but could not. The medical examiner chose not to go to the scene because Sill’s wounds synced up with Donald’s story, and also because of the man’s age, according to testimony.

At least one person, however, believed the death was suspicious. A family friend called police in January 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the investigation.

Seth Ellis Donald

Seth Ellis Donald

That changed in July 25, however. Cops in Beverly Hills, California called to say Donald wanted to turn himself in. He admitted to killing Sill, authorities said.

Donald allegedly recorded a 9-minute video in which he sat with his grandfather on a bench. He told his grandfather he was going to kill him, Sgt. Davis testified.

“Mr. Donald told him that basically that we were wasting resources on him and people like him and their future in this world,” said Davis. “He tried to stand up, and when he tried to stand up the camera drops to the ground and is facing upwards. You can hear a struggle ensue.”

Sill pleaded with his grandson to stop, but Donald covered his face with what seemed to be a rag, said Davis.

“You hear the victim say multiple times ‘Help, help, help, no, you’re killing me, stop,’ things like that,” Davis testified, according to WSAZ. “Mr. Donald is struggling saying ‘Let it come. It’s OK Grandpa. It’s time. I’m sorry.'”

Donald picked up the camera again, and panned it down to record Sill on the ground, said Davis.

“One hand is covering [Sill’s] face, and his legs are wrapped around his body,” he said.

Donald allegedly sent this footage to friends and family. According to testimony, he said he waited to confess until his finished a three-part “presentation.” The contents of this was described as an introduction for the general public, an introduction for an “academic” audience, as well as video saying why he killed Sill, according to WCHS.

Sill was a well-traveled sociology professor, pilot, and missionary who started the local Christ the Savior Orthodox Church, according to WSAZ.

[Screenshot via WCHS]

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