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National Park Double Murder Mystery Solved, Suspect Was Right Under Authorities' Nose

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For decades, investigators and sleuths were unable to crack the case of two women murdered while camping at a national park in 1996.

Now, things have taken a radical turn as the FBI says a new round of tests has identified the perpetrator and solved this grim cold case.

The bureau made the announcement on Thursday, nearly 30 years after the murders at Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.

In May 1996, Laura Winans and Julianne Williams were killed at a campsite near the Skyland Resort. Their throats were slashed, according to The Associated Press.

Their bodies were not found until a week later, and then only after park rangers conducted a wide search.

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Archival news footage from 1996 covers initial efforts to contact potential witnesses and alert hikers in the park.



Attempts to find the women’s killer were unsuccessful over the following decades.

In 2021, a new team out of the bureau’s Richmond field office took over the case.

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“FBI special agents, intelligence analysts, and other FBI Richmond employees reassessed hundreds of leads and interviews,” the bureau said in its news release. “They spent countless hours to identify and prioritize evidence from the crime scene to retest and submitted the items to an accredited private lab.”

Successful DNA extraction on old evidence led investigators to a shocking find, the FBI said.

When put into a national index system, the DNA hit as a match for Walter “Leo” Jackson Sr., a convicted criminal, according to the release.

Stanley Meador, FBI special agent in charge of the Richmond Office, said the match came with a “one in 2.6 trillion” certainty, WTVR-TV in Richmond, Virginia, reported.



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Jackson, a longtime criminal, served multiple years-long prison sentences since the 1980s and spent much of the time after the Shenandoah murders incarcerated and right under authorities’ noses.

The FBI detailed his criminal history which included kidnapping, rapes and assaults.

He was a hiker who was known to visit the park where the women were murdered, lending even more credibility to the FBI’s findings.

Unfortunately, Jackson died while incarcerated in March 2018 and will not be made to answer for these murders.


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Jared has written more than 200 articles and assigned hundreds more since he joined The Western Journal in February 2017. He was an infantryman in the Arkansas and Georgia National Guard and is a husband, dad and aspiring farmer.
Jared has written more than 200 articles and assigned hundreds more since he joined The Western Journal in February 2017. He is a husband, dad, and aspiring farmer. He was an infantryman in the Arkansas and Georgia National Guard. If he's not with his wife and son, then he's either shooting guns or working on his motorcycle.
Location
Arkansas
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Topics of Expertise
Military, firearms, history




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