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Midlothian man charged with murder of woman last seen leaving Northern Neck tiki bar

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Posted at 3:43 PM, Mar 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-03 16:09:06-05

LANCASTER, Va. — A murder charge, along with a charge for concealment with malicious intent of a dead body, has been filed against James Todd Kessler in connection with the disappearance of Claudine J. Gifford, last seen leaving a tiki bar on July 6, 2014, in Lancaster County.

Kessler, age 53, of Midlothian and White Stone, was already in custody on unrelated charges.Kessler was arrested a few weeks after Gifford was last seen, on one charge of felony aggravated malicious wounding after an altercation at the tiki bar at Pelican Point Restaurant at Windmill Point Marina on July 19.

The sheriff’s office said that thousands of miles have been searched, and numerous pieces of forensic evidence submitted.The Virginia Marine Police and the Virginia State Police joined the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office in the search.

Gifford was 43 when she was last seen leaving the tiki bar with Kessler. She has a teenage daughter. Gifford’s family has long maintained that Kessler was the culprit and made their view known on the Facebook page dedicated to finding Claudine.

Kessler will appear in court on March 13.

Gifford is described as a 5’4″ white female who weighs about 112 pounds. She was last seen wearing a multi-colored tank top, blue jeans and sandals.

Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call the Lancaster Sheriff’s Office at 804-462-5111 or Crime Solvers at 804-46-CRIME(462-7463).