Home Norfolk Press Releases 2009 FBI Norfolk Holds Press Conference About Colonial Parkway Murders

FBI Norfolk Holds Press Conference About Colonial Parkway Murders

FBI Norfolk December 18, 2009
  • Special Agent Philip J. Mann (757) 455-0100

On December 18, 2009, Special Agent in Charge Alex J. Turner of the Norfolk Division of the FBI made the following statement regarding the cases known as the Colonial Parkway Murders:

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen. As you are aware, on October 12, 1986, Cathleen Marian Thomas and Rebecca Ann Dowski were found brutally murdered inside Thomas’ vehicle. Subsequent to this event, on April 9, 1988, the vehicle belonging to Richard Keith Call and Cassandra Lee Hailey was found unattended off of Colonial Parkway. Although clothing belonging to the victims was found inside the vehicle, neither victim has ever been found. Both events occurred within the geographical boundaries of the United States Park Service [government reservation], where the FBI has concurrent jurisdiction and assumed the role of investigative lead in both incidents. Upon the realization that the two incidents were similar in nature, the Norfolk FBI, along with other law enforcement agencies, conducted a full-scale investigation of these homicides.  Hundreds of leads and interviews were conducted, evidence reviewed and examined, and numerous suspects identified and questioned. However, to date, neither incident has been successfully resolved. Nonetheless, the Norfolk FBI has maintained the investigation of these homicides as open investigations and has continued to follow any and all new leads as they have developed.

Earlier this year, information was brought to the attention of the Norfolk FBI that a number of crime scene photographs regarding the Colonial Parkway homicides were inappropriately taken from this office. The initial information was general in nature and did not lead to the immediate identification of the person in possession of the photographs or where the photographs were being used. Subsequent information, brought to our attention later in 2009, was more specific and clearly indicated that the photographs were being utilized in a public, law enforcement-type training environment. This allowed the FBI to initiate a full investigation.

As a result of the investigation regarding the photographs, the Norfolk FBI has determined that a former, non-agent employee of the Norfolk FBI is responsible for taking the crime scene photographs from this office without approval or authority. The employee, who was an FBI photographer at the time of both Colonial Parkway murders but who retired in 2001, inappropriately took with him duplicate photography slides depicting the crime scenes. Subsequently, the former FBI employee began a term of employment with a civilian training agency in the Hampton Roads area that provides law enforcement-type training and used the photographs in his capacity as an instructor. The former FBI employee later terminated his employment with the civilian agency and has since passed away, leaving  behind the slides and copies of the photographs at the agency, which continued to use them for training purposes. As of this date, the Norfolk FBI has seized all slides and copies of the crime scene photographs from the former employee’s estate, the civilian training agency, and two other individuals identified during the course of this investigation.

In September of this year, members of my staff met with members of the Call and Hailey families. At my direction, the families were advised that the Norfolk FBI would conduct a “top to bottom” review of the case to determine what if any physical evidence recovered at the crime scenes could be re-examined using advancements in forensic examinations. In addition, we committed to reviewing all investigative reports and other evidence which might result in furthering the investigation. On November 30, 2009, members of my staff met with personnel assigned to the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia and reviewed all of the physical evidence in this case. As a result, items of evidence were identified by laboratory personnel as good specimens for advanced nuclear DNA testing. In addition, numerous items were identified for further latent print examination. Therefore, those items are being prepared by my staff for shipment to the FBI Laboratory for examination or re-examination. Inasmuch as the investigation is still ongoing, I will not provide information regarding specific items of evidence to be examined or re-examined by the FBI Laboratory. In general, however, evidence being forwarded to the FBI Laboratory includes items such as clothing, blood, hair, and fiber evidence. At this point, it is too early to establish a timeline for completion of all examinations, however, the FBI Laboratory has committed to expediting the examinations.

In addition to this effort, the FBI is reviewing over 3,500 investigative reports generated during the course of the investigation and reviewing and prioritizing a list of approximately 130 suspects to assess further investigative action. We intend to continue to meet and coordinate with other law enforcement agencies that have ongoing investigative interests associated with the Colonial Parkway murders to ensure all relevant information is properly being shared and exchanged to the greatest extent possible.

As a matter of clarity for the public, on September 20, 1987 David Lee Knobling and Robin Margaret Edwards were found deceased at the Ragged Island Wildlife Refuge in Isle of Wight County and on September 5, 1989, Daniel Lauer and Ann Marie Phelps were found deceased in the vicinity of a rest area off I-64 in New Kent County, Virginia. Inasmuch as these homicides occurred within the jurisdiction of state and local authorities, the Virginia State Police has been the lead agency. However, due to the similarities between the FBI and Virginia State Police cases, there continues to be a belief that the cases are related. Both the FBI and the VSP are working together with this theory in mind, however, no conclusive physical evidence has been developed tying all of the homicides together.

In an effort to further ensure that all information regarding the Colonial Parkway homicides has been brought forward, the FBI is announcing this morning that it is increasing the reward for any information leading to the arrest and successful prosecution of the individual or individuals who may have been involved in these violent crimes from $10,000 to $20,000. We are asking that anyone with information contact the Norfolk FBI at 757-455-0100 or send an e-mail to Colonial_Parkway_Murders@ic.fbi.gov.”