Warner

Sherri Warner, a 37-year-old mother of three, was murdered in her Reva home Dec. 18, 2005. The sheriff's office says they have new leads in the unsolved case. CSE file photo

The Culpeper County Sheriff's and Commonwealth's Attorney's offices have made "a tremendous breakthrough" in the Dec. 18, 2005 unsolved murder of Sherri Warner in her Reva home.

In a release Monday, Sheriff Scott Jenkins said the department's pursuit of new leads and the re-examination of existing evidence using the latest technology led to the recent discovery of "a key piece of scientific evidence" potentially identifying a person at the crime scene the night of the murder. Conversely, the new evidence could also enable authorities to exclude innocent suspects, the sheriff said.

According to Jenkins, it is presumed the killer was not alone the night seven years ago when he murdered Warner, a 37-year-old mother of three.

"We want to speak to the second person," the sheriff said. "We are offering this other person the chance to come clean; remove this burden and fear from your conscience and mind, remove yourself from harm's way and help us end the killer's victimization of others.

"We understand you may be afraid of the killer; we can protect you. We understand you may fear your involvement that night could expose you to punishment; your coming forward will go a long way in positively determining your future life. No one should live in fear or danger from this killer. No children should ever have to lose their mother at this killer's hands again," Jenkins said.

Eyewitnesses reported a suspicious vehicle in the vicinity of Warner's home the night of her murder, according to the sheriff's office release.

"It may be that someone encountered the killer around the time of the crime and thought their behavior odd or frightening," Jenkins said. "Someone may have heard what was considered an unusual conversation about the murder. We are asking anyone with any information about the events of that night - even if you think it has already been reported - to contact us."

Whoever killed Warner "brought a lot of violence" to the crime scene, the sheriff said, displaying behavior suggesting "a degree of criminal versatility."

"They were able to con their way into her home, spend time there, brutally kill her and then escape," Jenkins said. "It is likely that this person was no stranger to violence and criminality, traits that would be reflected in their arrest history or behavior with others in their life. The killer possesses an ability to move to explosive violence and then recover. Those close to the killer, especially females, may have been the victims of violent outbursts."

On the night of Dec. 18, 2005, a Sunday, around 6:30 p.m., Warner was alone in her home along U.S. 29 in southern Culpeper County. She was on the phone with her father, John Embrey, discussing the Washington Redskins' recent win against the Dallas Cowboys when the call was interrupted by a knock on the door. It was a man on her doorstep claiming his car had broken down and asking to use Warner's phone so he could call for help.

His conversation suggested he was not alone, according to Jenkins. Warner hung up the phone and was never heard from again. Alerted by her family, first responders showed up at her Reva home just before 8 p.m. to find it on fire, her lifeless body bound and hanging in the basement.Warner was shot in the head.

"Most tragic was that Sherri's three children - aged 8, 10 and 13 - lost their mother that night, a week before Christmas," Jenkins said.

A Culpeper County High School graduate born in Arlington, Warner had celebrated her 37th birthday just a week before her death on Dec. 10, according to her obituary in the Star-Exponent. She was a law firm receptionist in a Main Street office in Culpeper and attended Precious Blood Catholic Church.

"She was a good Samaritan," said ex-husband Lonnie Warner, father of her three children, within days of Sherri's murder. "She would help anyone in any situation. She would open her door for anyone."

Sherri Warner, like most moms, deeply loved her children and was very involved with their extracurricular activities including soccer and Girl Scouts.

"She was the perfect mom," Lonnie Warner told the Star-Exponent seven years ago. "She sacrificed her wants and needs for her children."

In 2006, exactly a year after her death, a Culpeper County grand jury indicted convicted murderer Ricky Javon Gray in her murder. Lee Hart was Culpeper County Sheriff at the time, and Gary Close was commonwealth's attorney.

The case against Gray was suspended in 2008 at Close's request after forensics analysis found at the victim's home did not match Gray's.

Sheriff Jenkins is asking anyone with information about the Warner murder to contact the CCSO at (540) 727-7523 or (540) 727-3441 or by email to flucas@culpepercounty.gov or mmiller@culpepercounty.gov. Talk in person with investigators at the CCSO 110 W. Cameron St., Culpeper. There is a reward for information leading to the arrest of Sherri Warner's killer.

 

Law enforcement looks for help in solving Warner case

Editor's note: This letter was sent out by Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins on behalf of the CCSO and the Culpeper County Commonwealth's Attorney office.

As we reach the seven-year anniversary of a brutal crime that shocked our community, the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office and the Culpeper County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office continue to seek the public’s assistance with our investigation into the murder of Sheryl Warner. Sheryl was a resident of the Reva area of Culpeper County. We remain absolutely committed to solving this crime.  Our pursuit of new leads and the re-examination of existing evidence with the latest technology have led to the recent discovery of a key piece of scientific evidence that could potentially identify a person at the crime scene on the night of the murder.  Conversely, this same evidence could also enable us to exclude innocent parties from the suspect pool.  This has been a tremendous breakthrough for us.

The facts of this case were that on Sunday evening, Dec. 18, 2005, around 6:30 p.m., 37 year-old Sheryl “Sherri” Warner was alone in her home located at 8445 James Monroe Highway (Route 29 South in Culpeper County, about three miles before the Madison County line). She was on the telephone with her father, John Embrey, discussing the Washington Redskins’ recent win against the Dallas Cowboys. This phone call was interrupted when a male knocked on her front door, reported that his car had broken down, and asked to use her phone to call for assistance. His conversation suggested he was not alone. Sheryl Warner hung up the phone and was never heard from again.

Alerted by Sherri’s family, responding fire and law enforcement personnel discovered her home set on fire and her bound, hanging and lifeless body in the basement. The cause of her death was a gunshot wound to her head. Her murder robbed her family of a beloved daughter and sister. Most tragic was that Sherri’s three children — aged 8, 10 and 13, lost their mother that night — a week before Christmas.

Some eyewitnesses reported a suspicious vehicle in the vicinity of Sherri’s home that night. It may be the case that someone encountered the killer around the time of the crime and thought their behavior odd or frightening. Someone may have heard what was considered an unusual conversation about the murder. We are asking anyone with any information about the events of that night — even if you think it has already been reported — to contact us.

The person who murdered Sherri brought a lot of violence to the crime scene and their behavior suggests a degree of criminal versatility. They were able to con their way into her home, spend time there, brutally kill her and then escape. It is likely that this person was no stranger to violence and criminality, traits that would be reflected in their arrest history or behavior with others in their life. The killer possesses an ability to move to explosive violence and then recover. Those close to the killer, especially females, may have been the victims of violent outbursts.

It is presumed that the killer was not alone that night and we want to speak to this second person.   We are offering this other person the chance to come clean; remove this burden and fear from your conscience and mind, remove yourself from harm’s way and help us end the killer’s victimization of others. We understand you may be afraid of the killer; we can protect you. We understand you may fear your involvement that night could expose you to punishment; your coming forward will go a long way in positively determining your future life. No one should live in fear or danger from this killer. No children should ever have to lose their mother at this killer’s hands again.

If anyone has any information that might be related to this crime please contact us via any of the following means: via telephone at 540-727-7523 or 540-727-3441; via email at FLucas@Culpepercounty.gov or MMiller@culpepercounty.gov; or at Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office, 110 W. Cameron St., Culpeper Va. 22701.  Regardless of how insignificant you think your information might be — or even if you think we already are aware of the information — please let us assess the relevance of your tip.

There is a reward for information leading to the arrest of Sherri’s killer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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