Man accused in violent crime spree released from hospital, arraigned on charges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County man allegedly responsible for a violent crime spree on Charleston’s West Side was released from the hospital Thursday and arraigned on several charges including murder and attempted murder.

Joshua Andrew Drennen, 27, of Clendenin, was still in a hospital gown when he exited a Charleston Police Department cruiser not long after his release from CAMC General. Drennen has been hospitalized since Feb. 11. He was shot twice by CPD Patrolman Terrence “Austin” Casto.

Drennen denied his involvement in the crimes when reporters approached him outside police headquarters Thursday morning.

“God loves you all,” Drennen said.

The shooting came after Drennen allegedly murdered Barbara Steele, 77, in her West Side home and then allegedly carjacked a vehicle at the nearby Walgreens parking lot. Police said he then attempted another carjacking before encountering Casto near the Go-Mart near the Washington Street exit of Interstate 64.

Investigators said Drennen attacked Casto with an antique flat iron before Casto fired two shots. Casto is recovering at home.

Drennen is being held on a number of charges including murder, attempted murder, malicious wounding and first degree robbery.

MORE Read criminal complaint here

According to a criminal complaint released Thursday, Steele was murdered in her Georgia Street home. Her body was found laying over her living room coffee table. She had been beaten in the head, face and legs with a blunt force object. The complaint also said she was sodomized.

The complaint said Drennen left the house and went to an apartment where he had previously been. He was given a coat and told to leave. Surveillance video next puts him in the Walgreens parking lot where he allegedly forcibly removed Jacqueline Pritchford from her. She was struck in the face several times with a blunt force object, believed to be the flat iron. Video shows Drennen taking off in Pritchford’s car.

The complaint said a few minutes later Drennen crashed into a vehicle being driven by Arthur Lee Martin Jr at the intersection of Lee Street West and Tennessee Avenue. He allegedly tried to take Martin’s car but Martin pulled a gun and Drennen walked away from the scene. A few minutes later he encountered Patrolman Casto.

As he was being walked to Kanawha County Magistrate Court Thursday, he told reporters he didn’t recall what happened.

“I don’t remember anything,” Drennen said. “I woke up in the hospital with two gunshot wounds.”

Drennen is being held without bail in the South Central Regional Jail in connection with the murder charge. Bail is set at a total of $300,000 cash on the other three charges.

He’s scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing March 2 at 1:30 p.m.