Update: The first-degree murder charge against Michael Press was certified to a grand jury on March, 2, 2015, according to the Accomack County General District Court clerk.
HORNTOWN, Va. (WAVY) — The Accomack County Sheriff’s Office has arrested the man accused of murdering a 61-year-old school bus driver over the weekend.
Deputies found 61-year-old Leon Harmon Jr. dead outside his home on Cold Kall Lane, early Saturday morning. They said Harmon also clearly injured.
Later the same day deputies arrested 46-year-old Michael Press of Horntown. They charged him with first-degree murder and put him in the Accomack County Jail without bond.
Pamela Rice said she was devastated when she heard about Harmon, who drove her son to school for several years.
“I cried. I did. I broke down, and I just said I couldn’t believe it. After I found out it was him, I was like, ‘Oh my God,'” Rice said.
Rice said she and several other parents defended Harmon in 2012. At the time, Harmon told WAVY News a student accused him of making a threat, which Harmon denied. Accomack County Public Schools said Monday that Harmon continued driving buses and was “one of its most dedicated and veteran bus drivers” the school system had. The school district said crisis teams would be available this week at the schools where Harmon serviced.
Wilmer Phillips said he knew Harmon for 14 years, and described him as a hard-working farmer.
“He would go and play poker over the weekends, and that’s it. He worked Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, worked seven days a week … With everything going on today in the world, you’ve got to be very careful. At night, I’m sort of scared to come outside,” Phillips said.
According to a search warrant, investigators took a razor blade from the suspect’s home. Press was previously convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery for two cases from the 1990s, according to the Accomack County Circuit Clerk’s Office.
Investigators are still working to learn more about how Harmon died. An autopsy was scheduled to be performed Monday at the Medical Examiner’s Office in Norfolk.
WAVY News left a message at Accomack County Jail requesting an interview with Press, but did not receive a response Monday.