FBI Norfolk
Norfolk Public Affairs Office
August 21, 2019

Norfolk Police Detectives and Prosecutor Receive FBI Award for Solving a Cold Case Murder

Detectives from the Norfolk Police Department and a prosecutor from the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office are being awarded with the FBI’s 2019 Biometric Identification Award for using the Next Generation Identification (NGI) System to solve the 1981 murder of Donna Walker and bring her killer to justice.

The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division presents the Biometric Identification Award each year to an outstanding law enforcement officer or agency that has solved a major case using the NGI System, which is the world’s largest and most efficient electronic database of biometric and criminal history information. Biometric information includes fingerprints, palm prints, irises, and facial recognition.

The award will be presented by FBI officials from the CJIS Division on Thursday, August 22, 2019, at 9:00 a.m., at the Norfolk Police Department’s Third Precinct, 901 Asbury Avenue, Norfolk. The event is open to the press.

The award recipients from the Norfolk Police Department are Investigator Jerry Edwards, Detective Neal Baldwin, Detective Melvin Grover, Detective Victor Powell, and Detective Ray Smith.

The recipient from the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Phil Evans II.

About the case:

On September 5, 1981, twenty-year-old Donna Walker was found murdered in her Norfolk apartment, she had been stabbed more than 40 times. Evidence collected at the crime scene included a latent fingerprint recovered from the bathroom. Ms. Walker lived alone, so the source of the print became a focus in the investigation. The fingerprints of more than 160 potential suspects were compared to the evidence, but no matches were found. With no new leads, the case went cold.

Over the next three decades, investigators continued to submit the fingerprint evidence to the FBI’s national latent print database searching for new investigative leads. On January 28, 2015, the evidence was submitted to the FBI’s new advanced Next Generation Identification (NGI) System and within 30 minutes potential matches were returned, including Daniel Johnston who was incarcerated in New York for another homicide. Johnston was positively identified as a suspect through additional fingerprint analysis. He was indicted on state charges in late 2016 for the murder of Donna Walker and brought to Virginia to stand trial. In October 2018, Johnston was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. (He will conclude his New York prison sentence before reporting to the Virginia Department of Corrections.)

For more information about the case or the award presentation contact Norfolk Police Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Pickering at (757) 630-6295

For more information about CJIS or the Biometric Identification Award program contact CJIS Public Affairs Officer Holly Morris at hcmorris@fbi.gov or (304) 625-5833.