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FBI solves a 1996 Shenandoah National Park cold case murder

photo credit Scott Bradley Hesson with permission

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Western District of Virginia Attorney’s Office announced the identification of a murderer in a Shenandoah National Park cold case investigation.

The bodies of Laura Winans and Julianne Williams were found at their campsite at Skyland Resort on June 1, 1996.

An FBI investigation team was assigned to the cold case in 2021.

All leads were reassessed, and evidence reexamined.

Using technics unavailable in 1996 an accredited private lab was able to identify the murderer.

Convicted serial rapist Walter Leo Jackson Senior has been tied to the crime.

Jackson, originally from Cleveland Ohio, was positively matched by DNA to the crime scene.

Jackson had a lengthy criminal history that included kidnapping rape and assaults.

In 2018 the 71-year-old Jackson died in prison in Ohio.

Before being sent to prison Jackson was an avid hiker who frequented the Shenandoah National Park.

Western District of Virginia Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh hopes the discovery brings solace and some sense of closure to the Winans and Williams families and friends after 28 years.

Authorities continue to work to determine if Jackson was responsible for other unsolved crimes.

If you have any information on Jackson who often went by the name Leo is asked to contact local law enforcement or FBI.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

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