West Virginia mother of 5 allegedly beaten to death by newlywed husband during post-Thanksgiving brawl

A mother of five from West Virginia was allegedly beaten to death by her newlywed husband during an argument after Thanksgiving, according to local reports and police. 

Marrisa Dawson, formerly known as Marissa Mann-Bennett, “sustained major face trauma causing the victim to be deceased,” according to the criminal complaint filed in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. 

It describes how Zachary Hess Dawson, a live-in boyfriend whom she reportedly married just a month prior, was apprehended for questioning and later “informed officers he killed his wife.” 

The complaint says a friend by the name of Tyler Truman arrived at the home on Maple Avenue in Alderson, West Virginia, around 9 a.m. Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and dialed 911 upon finding Marrisa in the residence on the floor. The caller also noted how Marrisa’s vehicle was missing. 


West Virginia mother of five Marrisa Dawson was allegedly beaten to death by her new husband. 
(Marissa Dawson/Facebook)

Alderson police responded. The crime scene team noted blood throughout the residence both on the second floor and basement. It appeared the victim had been dragged through the residence, striking her head on several items. 

The search also found bloodied clothes consistent with the size of the victim, appearing to show that the victim’s clothes had been changed, according to the complaint. The team found that the basement bathroom was cleaned after utilizing a blue star chemical reagent. 

It appeared a fight took place that continued through the residence over a period of time. 

Law enforcement located Marissa’s gold 2016 Infinity QX80 operated by Dawson on US 219 in Lewisburg. A state police corporal who assisted in the removal and search of Dawson observed blood on his clothing, necklace, hands, and on the side of the vehicle, according to the criminal complaint. The corporal also noted the phone in Dawson’s pocket had GPS routing him to hotels near the interstate. 

Dawson was transported to the West Virginia State Police Lewisburg detachment for questioning. 

Zachary Hess Dawson is held at Southern Regional Jail, according to the WV Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Zachary Hess Dawson is held at Southern Regional Jail, according to the WV Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(WV Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation)

“Upon a post-mirandized interview, Zachary Hess Dawson admitted being responsible for her death and takes responsibility for it,” the complaint says. Police said Dawson admitted to striking Bennett the night before and into the early morning during an argument.  

“Subject stated that after striking his wife he blacked out and when he came to he knew he had messed up. Subject admitted that he changed her clothes to have clean clothes on her,” the complaint adds. 

West Virginia State Police uniform. 

West Virginia State Police uniform. 
(West Virginia State Police)

Zach and Marrisa Dawson were married on Oct. 24, a month before the murder, WV Metro News reported. The outlet also said Marrisa was the mother of five children, including an infant son born in August. 

She was reportedly employed as a housekeeping attendant at the Greenbrier Resort, her Facebook says. Greenbrier County Prosecutor Patrick Via told MetroNews that the investigation is in its early stages and will include looking into the relationship between the victim and suspect. 


“It’s my understanding that there was a very consequential amount of blood at the scene as well as articles of clothing that were gathered by the investigators,” Via told the outlet. 

Regarding Zach Dawson’s alleged confession, the prosecutor added, “Statements taken sometimes are subject to different interpretations later, so it’s critical that we proceed just as if we didn’t have a statement at all, quite frankly.” Alderson Police, Lewisburg Police, State Police and the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department are the four agencies involved in the murder investigation.  

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