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Cold Case of Two Women Murdered in Shenandoah National Park Solved, According to FBI 

Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Field Office in Richmond, Vermont, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia announced that the man responsible for the brutal murders of Laura “Lollie” Winans and her partner Julianne “Julie” Williams has been identified nearly three decades after the women’s bodies were discovered in Shenandoah National Park. New testing of DNA submitted to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) found a positive match to Walter Leo Jackson Senior, a convicted serial rapist who died in prison in March 2018 at 70 years old. 

“Even though we had this DNA match, we took additional steps and compared evidence from Lollie and Julie’s murders directly to a buccal swab containing Jackson’s DNA,” Stanley M. Meador, the FBI special agent in charge, stated in the FBI’s announcement. “Those results confirmed we had the right man and finally could tell the victim’s families we know who is responsible for this heinous crime,” 

The closing of the case comes after a new FBI investigative team was assigned to review the case in 2021 and has spent the past few years reassessing leads and evidence to retest in private labs. Meador told CBS News that there is only a one in 2.6 trillion chance that the DNA came from someone other than Jackson. 

A different suspect, convicted criminal Darrell David Rice, was indicted for the murders in 2001, but the case was dismissed for lack of forensic evidence in 2004.

“After 28 years, we are now able to say who committed the brutal murders of Lollie Winans and Julie Williams in Shenandoah National Park,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh stated. “I want to again extend my condolences to the Winans and Williams families and hope today’s announcement provides some small measure of solace.” 

For a longer backstory, read Blue Ridge Outdoors’ 2018 coverage of the case: A Murder In The Woods: The Mystery Behind a Double Murder in Shenandoah National Park

All photos posted by the FBI

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