Posts tagged “Alicia Reynolds

Prowler on the Parkway

In Virginia, a killer — more likely a handful of killers — are at large.  From 1986 to 1989, at least eight people became homicide victims on or near the Colonial Parkway.  Within hours after a passerby found the first victims, Cathy Thomas and Becky Dowski, inside a white Honda, investigators told family members that they believed the suspect was either a law enforcement officer or a police impersonator. The perpetrator bound Thomas and Dowski before slitting one of the women’s throats with enough force to cause partial decapitation.

While some believe the Colonial Parkway murders ended in 1989, and that the suspect is either dead or currently incarcerated, the May 1996 homicides of Lollie Winans and Julie Williams in a remote area of Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park are strikingly similar.  The two hikers were found bound and gagged with their throats slit.

In fact, the remains of David Knobling, Robin Edwards, Daniel Lauer, Annamaria Phelps, Alicia Reynolds, and Morgan Harrington, have dotted the Virginia country side.  The bodies of another couple — Keith Call and Cassandra Hailey — have yet to be located. All of these investigations remain open.  

Over the course of the past month or so, I have had the privilege to communicate with some of the victims’ family members.  This dialog caused me to do more research and dig a little deeper.  These brutal, unsolved homicides are extremely troubling. A good possibility exists that more than one killer is fulfilling his violent fantasies and remains at large to commit yet another heinous offense.

Last night, Virginia’s WAVY Channel 10 broke the news of my upcoming visit to the Richmond area.

While the report claims the Spingola Files is conducting an “independent investigation” from the FBI, I will not be acting in a law enforcement or private investigative capacity.  Instead, I am exploring these cases from the perspective of an investigative journalist.  Hopefully, my coverage of these events will call out volunteers to assist in the search of Keith Call and Cassandra Hailey, cause a person with relevant information to come forward, or somehow uncover a small piece of the puzzle needed to unlock the anonymity of the killer(s).  

Visit this Web site for updates on the Spingola Files visit to Virginia in early June.  I plan on posting information — in some cases live — as I speak with those involved in these complex investigations.


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

A Break in the Case?

A possible major break has occurred in the Colonial Parkway/Route 29 stalker investigations.

On April 7, the Augusta County (Virginia) Sheriff’s Department apprehended Ralph Leon Jackson, age 56, at his home on Howardsville Turnpike.  On the evening of April 5, authorities allege Jackson shot two people, with no apparent motive, at a scenic overlook on the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway. 

As the couple, 18-year-old high school senior Christina Floyd and WNRN operations manager Timothy Davis, 27, took in the sights; Jackson allegedly fired at least three shotgun blasts.  One of the rounds struck Davis, who tumbled 150 feet down a cliff.  Investigators believe Floyd wrestled the shotgun away from the shooter.  

The news magazine The Hook, reports that Jackson had “no known connection to the victims whom he began shooting from his vehicle, a burgundy Kia Sephia.”

Jackson, a life-long area resident, made admissions linking him to the shootings. 

Considering that nearly 14 years have eclipsed, a composite sketch of the Route 29 stalker — a man responsible for the 1996 death of Alicia Reynolds — looks similar to Jackson. 

To view a booking photo of Jackson visit:

To view a 1996 composite sketch of the Route 29 stalker, created from witnesses’ descriptions, visit:

The Colonial Parkway murders began in 1986.  A jogger discovered Cathy Thomas’ vehicle — a white Honda — on an embankment along the York River south of the Cheatham Annex.  The suspect(s) strangled Ms. Thomas and Becky Dowski with ropes and then slit their throats. Over the course of the next four years, two other couples were found murdered and another couple, still missing, is presumed dead.

The Route 29 stalker used the ruse of potential car trouble to encourage women to pull to the side the road.  From January 17 to March 2, 1986, the suspect made at least 23 contacts with female motorists.  Most of the women ignored the suspect’s demands to pullover.  In two instances, those who accepted assistance left the suspect’s vehicle unscathed.  The suspect attacked another woman, Carmelita Shomo, who managed to exit the vehicle.  In open court, Shomo identified Darrell Rice as her abductor.  A fourth woman, Alicia Reynolds, accepted a ride.  A man walking his dog discovered her body on May 7, 1986, near a rural road in Culpeper County. 

Convicted of the attempted abduction of Ms. Shomo, the federal government indicted Rice for other crimes, but when DNA for another individual was located, federal prosecutors dismissed these charges.

Jackson’s arrest has the potential to tie many of the loose ends, especially if he cooperates. 


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