Change in suspects: Abney now charged with murder

Steve Chapman

Last month, Raymond Sterling Fryling was charged with the murder of Coy A. Cole, Miller. Fryling is no longer accused of murdering Cole. After further investigation by the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, Matthew D. Abney, of Verona, now stands accused of that crime.
According to the probable cause statement in the case, the investigation into Cole’s murder began on Dec. 1, 2019, when a sibling of his called the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office to file a missing person’s report. Investigators from the LCSO monitored Cole’s financial transactions, and determined Abney, 36, allegedly used Cole’s debit card on Nov. 22, 2019; Cole was not present during the transaction. Abney is a former roommate of Cole’s.
According to the probable cause statement in the case, a witness to Cole’s murder said that on Nov. 19, 2019, Abney came to Cole’s residence in Miller and forced both her and Cole, 52, to get on their knees. She said Abney shot Cole in the arm, and that he shot at her also but missed. She also reported that Abney fired several shots, and she heard Cole shout, “No, Matt!” and then saw him dead in his chair in the living room. Abney also allegedly took Cole’s keys and destroyed Cole’s and the witness’s cellphones. The witness also said that Fryling and Abney wrapped Cole’s body in a shower curtain and loaded it into a small trailer with two chairs that belonged to Cole. Fryling and Abney also allegedly discussed removing the bullet from Cole’s arm; it reportedly had gone into a wall. According to the probable cause statement, the bullet was removed and given to Fryling. The witness also stated Fryling threatened to kill the witness’s family members in front of her and make her watch, and then kill her if she told anyone about what had happened.
The report also states that, on Dec. 5, Abney drove the witness to a residence where he was staying with Fryling in Verona, where he allegedly struck her with a silver .32 caliber revolver and his fist, causing her to have facial fractures and breaking her right hand, and resulting in her going to an emergency room.
Allegedly, Abney wanted a white SUV belonging to Cole for himself. Investigators spoke to Abney, who admitted to being at Cole’s residence when he was shot, and helping to load Cole’s body on the truck. He also said he assisted in taking the body to Fryling’s residence, where it was burned. When he’d been questioned in an earlier investigation, he alleged Fryling had committed the murder.
Cole’s SUV was found at Fryling’s residence, and a loaded .32 caliber silver handgun was also found there.
According to the probable cause statement, the LCSO executed a search warrant at Fryling’s property on Dec. 9, where they found a fresh burn pile, human remains and parts of a tan chair.
In addition to first-degree murder, Abney is also charged with first-degree robbery, two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of armed criminal action, tampering with a witness, two counts of tampering with evidence and abandoning a corpse. He is currently being held by the Missouri Department of Corrections; he was previously on probation for unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest, but his probation was revoked on Dec. 12, 2019 following a reported probation violation.
Though he is no longer charged with murder, Fryling, 53, is still facing serious prison time. He is charged with first-degree robbery, abandonment of a corpse, three counts of tampering with evidence and tampering with a witness. As of press time, he was still being held without bond at the Lawrence County Jail, where he’s been since Dec. 9.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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