Three Unsolved Murders

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

February 2, 2006

Investigators in Albemarle County continue to search for suspects in three long-unsolved homicides.

The most recent unsolved murder happened last February. Anthony Johnson?s body was found by a woman walking her dog. He'd been shot once and left beside a brown car on a dirt road near Darden Towe Park. Johnson was last seen at this gas station. Surveillance video puts him here at 9:30 p.m. the night before his body was discovered.

?We have interviewed numerous people that had contact with him that day, up until days and weeks prior to the event occurring. But we just have not been able to get that one piece of information that will connect this puzzle,? said Albemarle County Police Lt. Greg Jenkins.

The second case puzzling investigators is the 1985 murder of a store clerk. The Southwinds market once stood on the corner of Avon St. and Route 20. Police say a man walked into the market one morning nearly 21 years ago and shot and killed the owner.

Police have suspects in both of these murders but not enough evidence to make any arrests.

The county's third unsolved murder happened the Saturday after thanksgiving 1997. A man was standing in his backyard with his wife when she was shot.

Albemarle County police are no closer to cracking the case than they were 8 years ago. They do, however, have a suspect. In fact it's the same suspect they have been looking at for nine years. They just don't have the evidence to charge him. Meanwhile a loving husband is still waiting for justice.

?We should have grown old together but it didn't happen,? said Hugh Garrison.

They fell in love at 18 and after 30 years of marriage, Hugh Garrison knew his wife. As a private investigator, he also knew to trust his gut.

?I was working in D.C. and [I got] a strange feeling [that] something [wasn't] right...and I came home early,? said Garrison.

His wife was asleep but someone was in the woods behind their home.

"I [heard] gun shots real close to the house and I went outside to investigate and unfortunately she followed me out," continued Garrison.

Garrison yelled at the gunman to stop shooting.

"The last shot that I heard, I heard something behind me and I turned around and she was on the ground," said Garrison.

One bullet struck Janis Garrison in the head. She died instantly.

"That's the only saving grace I had to the whole thing is that I know she didn't suffer," said Garrison.

Although Garrison couldn't see the gunman through the trees, he believes the shooter could clearly see him and his wife where they stood outside their home.

A hunter admitted being in the wooded area at the time of the shooting.

"We do not have enough evidence to charge the person that we thought at the time pulled the trigger," said Albemarle County Police Lt. John Teixeira.

After eight years of suspecting who may have killed his wife, Garrison wants the person responsible to get just punishment.

?He's gone on with his life; I can't,? said Garrison.

Garrison can?t forget the night he lost his wife. He just hopes to find closure by bringing his wife's killer to justice.

"It?s just something you have to live with. It's something you never forget, but you still have to go on. You have to continue living your life, you can't just stop living when something like that happens," said Garrison.

Police say they are unsure if this murder was intentional or if it could have just simply been an accident but they are continuing to investigate the death as a homicide.

The county averages two to three murders each year and only these three murders remain unsolved. If this report has jogged your memory, police ask that you call with any information that could possibly help them arrest the people responsible. The number is 434-977-4000.

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