Prince Michel Security Chief Killed

79-year-old Harold Tuel was killed Friday afternoon at his home in Leon, at Prince Michel Vineyards, where he was employed as the security chief. Madison County police suspect foul play, and have confirmed that there is a suspect in the case. No information is available about how he was killed, though more information on the case should be released this afternoon. Peter Savodnik has the story in today’s Progress. 04/09/02 Update: Police have charged Billy Dean Martin, 40, with capital murder and issued a warrant for his arrest. Keri Schwab has the story in today’s Progress.

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    Daily Progress staff writer

    MADISON — Prince Michel Vineyards has confirmed that its security chief, Harold Tuel, was killed Friday afternoon in his home at the vineyard.

    Madison County Sheriff Bob Russell said Saturday night that law-enforcement officials suspected foul play was involved but declined to comment on the details of the case.

    On Sunday, Prince Michel spokesman Neil Williamson said there was at least one suspect wanted in the killing. Russell said Saturday that there were no suspects, but he could not be reached for comment Sunday.

    Allison Fisher, a Madison Sheriff’s Office dispatcher, said Sunday that the Sheriff’s Office would release more information Monday afternoon about Tuel’s death.

    Williamson added that the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office had lent Madison law-enforcement officials “imaging” equipment to help in its investigation.

    Culpeper Sheriff’s Deputy Larry Graham confirmed that Culpeper was aiding Madison but declined to comment on specifics. Graham referred all questions to Lt. Bruce Cave, who is in charge of Culpeper’s investigations.

    Cave could not be reached for comment Sunday.

    The Madison Sheriff’s Office received a call at 4:45 p.m. Friday requesting that law-enforcement officials check Tuel’s house. Tuel, 79, was found dead in his Leon home sometime later.

    The Sheriff’s Office has not said who made the call or who discovered the body. Williamson also declined to say who discovered the body, which has been sent to Northern Virginia for an autopsy.

    Tuel, a former Culpeper Town Police dispatcher, worked for the vineyard and Omni Services, which used to own the vineyard, for at least eight years, Williamson said.

    “He was the on-site security chief,” Williamson explained.

    “He lived on the estate, on the vineyard, and he monitored all alarms. … He and I knew each other quite well. He was a very good man.”

    Tuel’s first cousin Jimmy Tuel said Harold Tuel was a race-horse enthusiast whose family had been in the Culpeper area since at least the 1890s.

    “Everybody knew him. He was kind of famous because he looked like that Kojak on TV,” Tuel said from his Culpeper home, referring to the New York City cop played by Telly Savalas in the 1970s show.

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