Virginia’s Double Murders– 1980s and onward

Sorry I have not been too active on here, but I’ve been slammed. I have a deadline on BT II and I must get to the artwork. I have information lines out on EAR/ONS and ZODIAC that constantly must be tended, and then this windfall came my way on the Colonial Parkway Murders when a Virginia man called “the operative” went to the crime scenes and took many photos of them from all angles. At the very least, I knew I had to get up pages that dealt with the crime scenes before I forgot which photo went with what angle.

“The operative” says he can be named, but I am waiting to do so in a special blog thanking him for all his efforts. He had followed my EAR/ONS work and in gratitude decided it was time to share photos of the crime scenes with me. He had long been wanting to go visit the sites. Being a native of Virginia he was keenly interested in the crimes and had been for a long time. I had posted my interest in these cases, but lamented I doubted I could get back east this year. Fortunately, he was willing and ready to go and gave me more than 400 pics probably. The areas are now well documented for all of us, and hopefully someone can add more information later.

But there is more to Virginia’s woods than the Colonial Parkway mysteries. Virginia has had a number of double murders of youths, the last in 2009. All of them share something in common. They are in a Federal national forest or State reserve, and for the one exception it was in a wood near Gaskins on the west of Richmond, which connects direct to I-64, the highway that connects them all except one, and this one exception in 2009 was once again in a National Forest.

at-entrance

A cold winter view of a beautiful summer retreat. Near Blacksburg, Virginia. The double murder of two youths occurred here in august 2009.

My pages on The Phantom of Colonial Parkway on the Q-Files will incorporate the other double murders in an attempt to bring some light to the crimes. In a loose sense most of them were at lovers’ lanes. But in a very strong sense of continuity they were in wooded areas.

Lovers’ lanes murders are usually on the fringes of society. That’s where the petting spots are. The Son of Sam slayings are an exception, but those weren’t strictly lovers’ lane killings, though the victims were couples. The ZODIAC haunted the rural areas, as did the Phantom of Texarkana. My point is that both of those sets of killings were by a serial. The Colonial Parkway Murders have been linked in style, for the most part, but the Shadow Slayer or Phantom there has not receive the appropriate importance in true crime chronicles and hence the details of the crimes sadly remain obscure.  The reason: the killings are linked equally by similarities and by dissimilarities, and by long time spans in between. Initially, they are linked over a 3 year period 1986-89.

A few of the links are that 1, each was a drawn-out affair; 2, each was different in some significant way– some victims were killed by knife and rope, others by gun (the caliber of which we do not know); some it was hard to say since one couple vanished and the other were not found for 6 weeks. But each case is definitely united in how they continually show significant variations in the way the victims were killed, in how the killer entrapped them and then tried to cover up the killing location and the final resting place.

I agreed with “the operative” that the New Kent County strike is particularly revealing.

The CPK was never apprehended. He was very careful.

Two years before the CPM, two youths in a wooded area near Richmond, Virginia, 60 miles from the Colonial Parkway area, had been murdered– Mike Margaret and Donna Hall. This case have never been solved despite the local police having the blood type and DNA of the killer. He’s never been nailed in any circumstance where his DNA would be in CODIS. This is also a careful killer.

billboard-contents-cont
The billboard at Caldwell Fields still advertises the reward for the cowardly slaying of David Metzler and his girlfriend Heidi Childs in 2009

 

Now there is much confusion about why the Metzler and Childs murders took place at a parking lot in Jefferson National Forest in August 2009. It seems a random killing, but it is random following the pattern of rural areas and double murder of youths– not middle aged campers. Not two buds. Not two sisters. Not two cousins. Couples. All victims have been under 30, some well under 30, in locations where couples went.

Virginia’s double murders must be explored due to some obvious connections, at least on the face of it. Similarities and dissimilarities must be collated. Though much time spans between some of them, each seems a haunting echo of a crime series that began in the 1980s. For instance, suspicion existed in 1996 in Shenandoah National Forest when the two female victims had been found killed in a similar way to the two female victims on Colonial Parkway in 1986. That was a 10 year separation. 2009 is 13 years later, but it was another National Forest, another pointless double murder against a young couple and apparently one where only the female victims’ wallet and purse were taken, like in the CPM. These last two had been shot with a 30.30, but then one of the Colonial Parkway couples had also been shot.

Due to my interest in exploring this recent case “the operative” when to Craig’s Creek Road and took photos of the area. This will be central to my overview of the crime scene. Very little is known here, so it is best to work forward from the context of the area.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

The Last Hunter

“He who laughs last, laughs the most.”

It’s an old maxim, but it does contain a truth. Be the last, the ultimate; be the one who finishes it all. For True Crime genre be the one in the white hat. Be the last hunter.

There is a difference between a predator and a hunter. Predators are cowards. They hunt the weak, the infirm, the straggler. Their satisfaction is personal fulfillment. For the serial killer it is the psychological thrill.

On the other hand, the hunter has a goal. He doesn’t stalk for the purpose of predation. He follows signs, trails; he carefully pursues.

If serial killers fancy they are the big, brave hunter cornering their quarry, then they better learn there are other hunters who will now seek them. Eventually, there will be the last hunter. This person will finally close the case.

“The hunter has become the hunted.”

This is truly an inaccurate slogan. The predator was never the hunter. He was the slinking predator looking for another quick meal.

The predator always leaves clues.  He must always leave clues. It is impossible not to leave clues. Even when trying to erase clues, he is leaving clues. He may think he is brave, but he would never try and erase clues and cover his tracks if he didn’t truly understand the hunter will come for him. Where is the bravery in this?

The hunter will come. He will kneel down and read the signs. He will look off into the woods and know where he must go next.

We’re going to have to start sifting some signs in the Colonial Parkway murders– hopefully next week. Some predictions need to be made. No use in reading signs if we don’t take a step forward to the woods. Several clues must be tied together. Hypotheses must be made. They must be tested.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Phantom Fusion: The Colonial Parkway Murders and . . . ?

As I continue with the preliminary pages and analysis on the strikes of the “Phantom of Colonial Parkway” on Q Files I see the Jason Voorhees element to the killings. The Friday the 13th series was quite popular in the 1980s, but I don’t know what inspiration if any that may have provided the killer. It is a curious aspect of the crime spree, however, that an analysis does reveal the swimming hole aspect of youths caught off guard.

The approach by the killer could have happened at a petting spot, and he may have staged clues to indicate skinny dipping holes to hide the actual area where he took his victims by surprise. In the case of Call and Hailey, who were never found, Call’s watch and glasses were found on the dash of his car, his clothes in the back seat. Yet the car was found where they never would have been skinny dipping. Either they really were out at a swimming hole or the killer told him to take those items off as well in order to solidly convey that image to investigators. I suspect the killer liked to leave false clues.

Today I work on the Lauer/Phelps murder, and these throw a kink into the lovers’ lane theory. They were at a rest stop on I-64 and were not lovers. Yet what happened in their case reveals so much about the Call-Hailey disappearance. It will also shed light on the others. lauerphelps

After I do the analysis page, I will engage in some fusion of facts. I will discuss the Winans/Williams double murder of 1996, one that is often linked the the Colonial Parkway Murders because of the apparent similarity to the Dowski/Thomas murders which were the first on the parkway in 1986. But I am also going to discuss the Hall/Margaret double murders in 1984. They were particularly vicious. They happened in the woods near an apartment complex and, sadly, have been attributed to someone “getting even” and not to a random killer.  There are many examples in the annals of crime where victims who led lives that had some danger to them are written off as the result of payback rather than the result of a serial killer. A famous example of how this theory confused one investigation is found in one of the ‘Zodiac’ Killer strikes. Vallejo Police were blindsighted for decades over the Ferrin murder, believing that because of those anonymous phone calls to her family members shortly after her death that ZODIAC must have known her.Whether that is the case here or not, I do not know, but it is necessary to discuss the case in relation to the CPM since it happened just west of Richmond, Virginia.

Another case which I will discuss is the far more recent case of the double murder of David Metzler and Heidi Childs at Caldwell Fields near Blacksburg, Virginia. This murder occurred in late August 2009. The young couple were also in a Federal forest area– the link with the Colonial Parkway Murders. All victims were either in Federal jurisdiction or State jurisdiction. I say “area” in this case because though the news articles mention the national forest the Sheriff seems to be handling the case, which is curious because it implies it didn’t happen right within Federal property.

All cases are also united by the stunning lack of evidence released to the public, none of which is necessary to protect the case. We do not know the caliber of gun used in the Ragged Island double murder. We know in the Metzler/Childs murder that the caliber was 30.30 so we can deduce a common Winchester lever action rifle was used rather than another model that might have been easier to trace that also fires the 30.30 slugs.

The killing field was just up the road from Camp Tuk-A-Way– another odd association with a traveling Jason Voorhees. Craig’s Creek Road was not isolated. All the locals knew the students from Virginia Tech frequently came to Caldwell Fields. Deer hunters abounded in the area. A 30.30 is the prime deer hunter rifle. A serial who knows the national forests would likely know the area, at least in passing. He would know youth came out there. But so little is known of this parking lot shooting that it is hard to draw similarities between it and the Colonial Parkway Murders. We know that Knobling and Edwards had to be taken off guard in the parking lot there.  Call and Hailey were surprised somewhere before their car was driven to where it was staged on the parkway. Lauer and Phelps were driven into the woods from the rest area parking lot where they were approached, presumably at gun point.

In the CPM the men’s wallets remained behind whereas the woman’s was taken. Childs’ purse was taken at Caldwell Fields. I assume Metzler’s wallet was left behind. Some say that Childs ran and was found at a distance from Metzler’s car, but that he was found therein. I can find no reliable source (so far) that says she ran. But it could be that the killer tried to get them to go into the forest at gunpoint and Metzler refused. The killer shot him in the car and Childs bolted or was told to run.

In any event, the tragic case must be discussed.

Sadly, the Metzler/Childs double murder does not present as a unique MO. The double murder at Jenner, California, in 2004 is just one example where a couple is gunned down without any preliminaries. Without more details it is impossible to theorize with any degree of confidence that the same killer who possibly traveled 180 miles from the parkway area to the Shenandoah in 1996, seven years after the last CPM, was still traveling about the Virginia State in 2009 and attacked again.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Colonial Parkway Phantom Murders 1986-89

It appears I am timely yet again– another something that is unusual for me. The Colonial Parkway Murders are hotting up in interest, which is a good thing, and it has become certain now within the chat of true crime that I have detailed photos, thanks to the Virginia operative who is so far unsung by name. My web section is going to be like EAR/ONS and ZODIAC, which I am grateful have become the prototypes for investigation and display online. More information is coming in, so this post is just a little update to forewarn people that my preliminary crime scene pages on Q Files will be undergoing enormous updates as this information comes in.

For instance, I just placed up two nights ago the page on Knobling and Edwards. New information has now come in and I know where the bodies were found in proximity to others and even the state in which Robin Edwards was found. So I must update and change some facts and deductions therefore. She was NOT found clothed at all. The bodies were not found next to each other.

At present I am organizing the third case– Keith Call and Sandra Hailey’s disappearance. But I will be reworking Case 2 as well.

I have a book release upcoming in Spring. I have information which is coming in on EAR/ONS and ZODIAC, but I will continue to juggle the Colonial Parkway Murders in order to have a very accurate and concise section on Q Files like EAR/ONS.

Again, my thanks again to the Virginia operative for taking the time to research and travel and photograph all the locations.

The more I study the case the more I realize that the “phantom” took unusual risks, which he must have felt were not risks at all. I’m beginning to wonder if some weren’t false clues that he planted. As lovers’ lanes killers go, he has more victims than any of them and more anonymity. There is no clue, so far as I know, to his weight, stride, height, features, type of vehicle, nothing.

What is curious is that he stuck to The Zodiac Killer’s MO to strike far and wide in various jurisdictions. He also killed by rope, knife, gun, and in one case used fire– the 4 declared methods of the ZODIAC. He’s not the ZODIAC, of course. But he began his crime spree in 1986, the year that Graysmith’s book on the Zodiac Killer came out. I must find out when that release date was. His was the first book on the ZODIAC.

The Colonial Parkway Killer wasn’t a copycat, but it is interesting to consider if he was inspired by having read the book.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.