FBI Richmond
Public Affairs Specialist Leslie McLane
(804) 261-1044
June 20, 2024

FBI Richmond Identifies Suspect in 1996 Shenandoah National Park Double Murder

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Richmond Field Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia announce a suspect has been identified in the murders of two women in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, in May 1996.  

Laura “Lollie” Winans and Julianne “Julie” Williams were murdered at their campsite near the Skyland Resort on May 24, 1996. Family members called the National Park Service after the women did not return home as planned. Their bodies were found on June 1, 1996, after an extensive search by rangers with the National Park Service. 

In 2021, a new FBI Richmond investigative team was assigned to conduct a methodic review of the case. FBI special agents, intelligence analysts, and other FBI Richmond employees reassessed hundreds of leads and interviews. They spent countless hours to identify and prioritize evidence from the crime scene to retest and submitted the items to an accredited private lab.  

Recently, the private lab successfully pulled DNA from several items of evidence and, with assistance from the Virginia State Police, the profile was submitted to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). There was a positive match to Walter Leo Jackson Senior (born November 2, 1947). Jackson was a convicted serial rapist, originally from the Cleveland, Ohio area. 

“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. 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,” said Stanley M. Meador, the FBI Richmond special agent in charge. 

“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 said today. “I want to again extend my condolences to the Winans and Williams families and hope today’s announcement provides some small measure of solace.”

Jackson, who went by the name “Leo,” died in prison in March 2018 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Jackson had a lengthy criminal history, including kidnapping, rapes, and assaults. Our investigative team continued taking steps to learn more about Jackson’s activities through the years, which includes full coordination with our partners at the Cleveland Police Department and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.    

Jackson, a residential painter by trade, was an avid hiker and was known to visit Shenandoah National Park. At the time of Lollie and Julie’s murders, we believe he was driving a 1984 Chestnut Brown AMC Eagle 30. Jackson later drove a 1979 model Ford Econoline 250 van. Jackson was known to use temporary tags, alter license plates, and frequently change vehicles. 

The FBI will continue to work with law enforcement partners to determine if Jackson is responsible for other unsolved crimes. Anyone with information on Jackson should call 1-800-CALL FBI or submit online at tips.fbi.gov.