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Virginia Prison Guard Charged With Murdering Fellow Guard Carrying His Unborn Child

by Jo Ellen Nott

The guard staff at Virginia’s Keen Mountain Correctional Facility (KMCF) is down by two, after one was arrested for fatally shooting the other, who was seven months pregnant with his unborn child. The fetus died along with its mother, Amber Dawn Compton, 35, whose corpse was found in her home on October 22, 2022. Fellow KMCF guard Dustin Barret Owens, 38, was arrested the following day and charged with first-degree murder.

The day before his arrest, the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding a missing woman. Deputies and Virginia State Police troopers responded, later joined by crime scene technicians. Compton, a nurse and mother of three, was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds inside her home around 10 p.m. that night.

County Chief Deputy Sheriff Eric Breeding said his office was working on establishing a timeline of Compton’s activities and movements from the last time she was seen, two days before her death. After searching her home, investigators focused on Owens. He was arrested in his Vansant home that night.

Compton had three children with another man, but police believe Owens was the father of the baby she was carrying and will seek to confirm that with DNA testing. The two were reportedly romantically involved. Breeding told the press that his department has a motive for the murder that should be fairly easily proven.  

Before starting work as a registered nurse with the state Department of Corrections at KMCF, Compton received her associates degree in nursing from Southwest Virginia Community College. Her mother, Rachel Compton, remembered her daughter as a devoted mom.  “Everything she did (was) done (for) the benefit of her children,” she said. 

Owens was arraigned on October 24, 2022, the day after his arrest. He is being held without bond at the Southwest Regional Jail. He has not yet entered a plea to the charges against him. Officials are considering filing additional charges in addition to first-degree murder. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 12, 2023. 

Sources:  New York Post, People, WDBJ

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