A life-sized "dummy" was discovered last week by Chesapeake Energy employees, suspended by a noose from a tree along state Route 89 in the Silver Hill area of Wetzel County.
The words "go away drillers or you will die" were written across the chest of the stuffed figure, according to an anonymous e-mail sent by a person claiming to be an employee of Chesapeake. The figure was taken down by Chesapeake security officers and employees had been told the incident was being investigated.
The e-mail said employees feel that "this was a threat of bodily harm to us" and they are "now afraid they may be shot at." Some residents of Wetzel County have been protesting the drilling of natural gas due to the harm it is doing to local roadways.
On Thursday morning, Wetzel County Sheriff James Hoskins said his department had not been notified about the discovery or any investigation.
However, after consulting with the Wetzel County Prosecutor's office, Hoskins did look into the reports and confirmed that he did have the figure in his possession by Thursday evening.
"I did go and pick it up and we are holding it in our evidence room," Hoskins said. "Chesapeake did have possession of it, but we were told by our county prosecutor to pick it up."
As of Friday, Hoskins said the sheriff's department has not had any reports of "physical threats of bodily harm" to any employees.
Hoskins said if anything is reported his department and the prosecutor's office will look into it and take it very seriously.
"Although nothing else has been reported, this does allow us to know there might be a problem in the future," he said.
"We have had complaints from local residents about increased traffic on the road. We have also gotten reports of residents jumping in front of gas company trucks and taking photos."
When asked for a comment about the reports or employee safety, Chesapeake Energy Manager of Corporate Development Maribeth Anderson said, "Chesapeake Energy agrees with Sheriff Hoskins assessment." Chesapeake employees asked to remain anonymous because they feared "they would be targeted."