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Lynchburg man reached out to Warden before calling police

By SARAH BRADBURY

sarah@southwesttimes.com

 

Jonathan Craft, of Lynchburg, called Pulaski Police Department after reaching out to Samantha Warden, mother of Cory Cole, the infant who was found dead in a wooded area in Draper. Craft said he wanted to reach out to Warden, which he said he did through a media outlet, and let her know he knew what she was going through. He thought it would be helpful for her to be able to talk to someone who could relate and knew what she was going through. Craft’s 13-month-old daughter, Veralee Marie Craft, was killed in 2012 by the boyfriend of her mother, Preston King, who agreed to plead guilty to first degree murder charges.

Craft said he had never met Warden at all until Monday, Feb. 10. He talked to Warden which led to him ask if she needed to get out of town for a while. He offered to let her stay at his home for a few days, and she accepted. Craft said it didn’t take long before he realized something was off.

He said Warden talked about money and said she didn’t have enough for a grave marker, so Craft said he would help her set up a fundraiser. He set up a Facebook page, Justice for Cory Cole, modeled after the one made for his own daughter. Craft said he is a serious child abuse activist and is locally known for his involvement.

When Craft asked Warden about the abuse Cole inflicted on Cory, he mentioned the report of Cory being thrown on the bed by Cole. Craft said Warden told him she only told the cops Cory had been abused by Cole so they would get involved. “She said ‘he didn’t actually throw him on the bed, he tossed him,’” said Craft, who was very upset by the fact Warden didn’t seem to see tossing as abuse.

“She also said the police told her there were bite marks (on Cory) and that Cole used to bite her during sex, which was more than I needed to know.” Craft spoke of Warden’s promiscuous activity, saying she had been trying to “hook up with different guys in Lynchburg” since she had been at his home, and that she had been on a Skype call with a different guy in North Carolina who was going to come and pick her up and take her there.

Craft said after the many red flags he had seen from Warden, he decided he needed to act. “Things just started going in a different direction, so I contacted a Pulaski detective. I knew something wasn’t right,” said Craft.

He also said he still has her personal items at his home, and the guys she was staying with at “the little blue house in the middle of nowhere” asked if he was planning to bring the items back. Craft told them they could come and pick them up, that he would leave them outside. He said among the items left behind were an iPad with her personal information and Facebook messages readily accessible and drug paraphernalia. Craft tried to send these items with Campbell County police and said he was told they couldn’t take them because there was no room.

“When she got arrested at my house she showed no emotion,” said Craft. “The only thing she was worried about was whether or not she could change her clothes or have a cigarette. She wasn’t in shock.” Craft said at that point Warden called her parents and told them goodbye. “I think a lot more is going to come out of it. I think the full truth is going to come out.”

 

*Be sure to check out our weekend edition for more of this story.

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