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New details emerge in Charleston homicide

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CHARLESTON — Cheleta S. Branch was fatally stabbed and her body hidden before it was discovered Friday by Charleston police, court records show.

Charges filed in the case state that Branch, 50, had been stabbed in the throat with a knife and that her body was hidden inside the home by covering it with a tarp and multiple clothing items.

Those same documents note the attack could have taken place as far back as April 1. Coles County Coroner Ed Schniers said the results of an autopsy and the pending toxicology report will provide a more definitive timeline, he said.

Joshua Fairchild


Police went to the home in the 800 block of Jackson Avenue on June 25 in response to a call requesting they conduct a well-being check. Police searched the property after obtaining a warrant.

The man Branch shared the house with, 26-year-old Joshua A. Fairchild, was charged Monday in Coles County Circuit Court with first degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death. 

State's Attorney Jesse Danley said Fairchild and Branch recently moved to Charleston. It is still unclear what their relationship was, he said.

Danley said there are no other suspects in the case.

Fairchild remains in the Coles County Jail on $1 million bond, meaning he would have to pay $100,000 to be released.


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