Posts tagged “The Hook

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 :

“…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.


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