Buckhannon man arrested on multiple charges after allegedly breaking into estranged wife’s home

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Thomas Underwood

BUCKHANNON – A Buckhannon man was arrested on four charges Tuesday related to an incident in January in which he allegedly broke into his estranged wife’s residence and was found sitting in a chair with three hatchets.

Thomas Lee Underwood, 35, was arrested Tuesday, Feb. 5, on one felony charge – nighttime burglary – and three misdemeanors, including violation of a protective order, brandishing a deadly weapon and domestic assault.

The four charges stem from an incident that allegedly occurred on Jan. 12, 2019.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office, on Jan. 12, 2019, at approximately 9:50 p.m. Trooper J.S. Tonkin and Cpl. V.J. Pyles with the Buckhannon detachment of the West Virginia State Police arrived at a residence on Everson Road in response to a violation of a protective order complaint.

Upon arrival, Tonkin made contact with the victim, Underwood’s estranged wife, the complaint states. She told the officer that when she had returned home earlier, the lights inside her residence were off.

However, when she went into her bedroom and turned on the light, her husband, Underwood, was allegedly “sitting in a chair holding three hatchets across his lap.”

The victim told Tonkin she then ran to her parents’ house, where she called 911.

When the victim and her parents returned to the victim’s residence, Underwood had left, according to the report.

In the complaint, Tonkin indicated the victim appeared to believe Underwood could potentially hurt her.

“The victim indicated through her statement and behavior that she was in fear of immediate harm from Underwood,” Tonkin wrote in the complaint.

When Tonkin asked the victim how she thought Underwood had entered her residence, she told the officer she believed he had “‘picked’ the lock as he had done previously.”

The victim also told Tonkin she had filed for divorce from Underwood, and he was no longer a resident at the home on Everson Road.

Tonkin also noted in the report that he had checked the domestic violence protective orders through the Upshur County E911 Communication Center and discovered that Underwood’s wife, the victim, had secured a protective order that was in effect through Jan. 29, 2019.

According to a previous My Buckhannon story, Underwood was arrested on charges of child concealment in October 2018 when he allegedly violated a domestic protection order by picking his daughter up after school and refusing to return her to her mother, the victim.

Regarding the charges related to the Jan. 12, 2019 incident, Magistrate Kay Hurst set bond at $75,000.

If convicted on the nighttime burglary charged, Underwood faces being confined in the state penitentiary for a time period ranging from one to 15 years. If found guilty of violation of a protective order, Underwood faces imprisonment for a period of time ranging from one day to one year and a fine ranging from $250 to $2,000.

The penalty for a conviction on the brandishing a deadly weapon charge is imprisonment for not less than 90 days but not more than one year and/or a fine ranging from $50 to $1,000. In addition, the penalty for a guilty verdict on the domestic assault charge is confinement in jail for up to six months and/or a fine of up to $100.