Blue Ridge Parkway Shooting Update

The man charged with the bizarre Blue Ridge Parkway shootings of two people is undergoing drug treatment for cancer. 

According to the news magazine The Hook, the co-owner of the business employing Ralph Leon Jackson, age 56, describes the accused gunman as “nice guy” and “a good worker.”  Barbara Lambert, of Delmar’s Auto Repair, further notes that Jackson is suffering from advanced prostate cancer and undergoes chemotherapy treatment, which may result in noticeable weight loss. 

As I noted in an earlier posting, the similarities between Jackson and a 1996 composite drawing of the alleged Route 29 stalker are striking.  In the composite sketch, the suspect appears more robust with thicker hair. 

According to the Web site chemocare.com :

“…weight loss after chemotherapy is associated with side effects of chemo that can sometimes interfere with your ability to eat or drink and affect your ability to maintain your healthy weight.  Chemotherapy weight loss may occur as a result of: poor appetite, eating less, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and dehydration.”

Moreover, the subsequent dismissal of the federal indictment against Darrell Rice revealed the presence of DNA belonging to another individual at an associated crime scene. Investigators will now compare Jackson’s DNA against the person of interest.

Hopes of an expeditious resolution to other investigations are apparently premature.  While Jackson initially cooperated with detectives, he has now exercised his Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel. 

Nonetheless, investigators from the Virginia State Police are likely scouring Department of Transportation records in an effort to ascertain what vehicles Jackson owned or operated in the mid-1990s.  The suspect’s occupation may complicate matters.  As a mechanic, Jackson probably had access to vehicles he serviced, both at his place of employment and while doing work on the side.

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Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee’s North Side Strangler.

Copyright, Steven Spingola, Wales, WI 2010

One Response

  1. Bill Thomas

    Thanks for the update, and your thoughtful analysis. While I am skeptical that Ralph Leon Jackson is the Route 29 Stalker, I do feel that he should be looked at in all of the unsolved murders in that area of Virginia– the 1996 Route 29 Stalker case, the killing of Julianne Williams and Lollie Winans at the Shenandoah National Park in fall 1996, as well as the murders of Childs/Metzler in August 2009 and Morgan Harrington in October 2009 which are two more recent high profile examples.

    I do agree with you that we should keep in mind that it has been reported that Mr. Jackson has cancer and has a serious problem with alcohol, both of which may result in weight and hair loss. The Route 29 Stalker sketch is from 14 years ago in 1996. I spoke with people in law enforcement and the media yesterday who are looking for photos of Jackson from 1996, which would be a better comparison.

    Thanks.

    Bill Thomas
    Brother of Cathleen Thomas

    April 10, 2010 at 6:07 pm

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