During 2018, at least 13 people were victims of homicides, along with one other person who perished in a suspicious death, in the Fredericksburg region.
The number of area homicides surpassed 2017’s total by two and fell well short of the 19 area killings in 2016.
At least five of this year’s cases involved relatives and another three of the homicides appear to have been related to illegal drugs.
In two cases, suspects were charged after fatal drug overdoses, apparent effects of the opioid epidemic that has swept across the U.S. in recent years. Also, in most of the cases the victims and suspects were either friends or relatives.
Stafford County had the most area homicides this year with five.
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania had three homicides each. There was one violent death in each of three area counties: Caroline, Orange and Culpeper.
For at least the third year in a row there were no homicides in King George.
The first criminal case connected to a death in the county happened on Jan. 16, when Rachael R. Robey, 23, was found dead at a home in the Olde Forge subdivision. She died after using heroin, molly and a muscle relaxer, according to what the man charged in her death told police.
Ricky Lee Ayala Jr., 26, was indicted by a Stafford grand jury on charges of felony homicide and involuntary manslaughter, along with several drug offenses. His two-day jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 8 and 9.
Less than a month later, on Feb. 6, a 33-year-old Stafford man was found dead in his home with gunshot wounds to his face and legs, according to court records.
The victim’s brother, William Jackson Veronee, 21, of Aiken, S.C., admitted to the killing on Feb. 6, a day after the shooting is believed to have happened.
A two-day jury trial is scheduled to start on March 26.
The next county homicide didn’t happen until Aug. 1 when an 18-year-old man was stabbed to death, apparently during a dispute with his brother over a phone charger. Miequan Curmon faces various charges, including first-degree murder and aggravated malicious wounding.
His two-day jury trial is set to start March 6.
The next homicide in the county may have have ties to illegal drugs.
On Nov. 18, Stafford resident Chaquil Daily was gunned down near the gas pumps at the Exxon/Mr. B’s Market and Deli on U.S. 17 shortly after midnight.
Police identified the suspected shooter as Jules Morgan, 18, of Henrico. He and his suspected getaway driver, 19-year-old Jonathan Wrenn of Spotsylvania, were arrested near Harrisburg, Pa., by the U.S. Marshals Service.
According to search warrants, during a search of a Spotsylvania home a large trash can was found next to a vehicle in the garage with a large number of individually packed bags of marijuana. The car is registered to Wrenn.
Morgan is charged with second-degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a felony. Wrenn is charged with being an accessory after the fact of murder.
No trial date has been set.
A week later, on Nov. 25, a county man was found beaten to death in his home.
After a caller notified the Sheriff’s Office, deputies went to the home and found Larry Dean Roberson, 54, deceased. Evidence revealed that his injuries were caused by blunt force trauma. Detectives later charged Matthew David Roberson, 42, of Fredericksburg in the death. He is the victim’s cousin.
No trial date has been set.
Three homicides were recorded in the city this year.
On May 22, Dynasty Anderson, 33, died after using a combination of heroin and other drugs that police say she purchased from Nicole Marie Coon, 30.
Coon was arrested in December and charged with felony homicide. She is also charged with four counts of possessing illegal drugs, two counts of distributing illegal drugs and two counts of child abuse.
Coon is scheduled to be arraigned in Circuit Court on Thursday.
The next city killing happened on Aug. 8, when Kentroyia Fletcher was shot and killed at the McDonald’s in Central Park, according to police. Anthony Ellis, the 19-year-old woman’s former boyfriend, was the shooter. Ellis, 22, committed suicide as police searched for him.
The third city slaying of 2018 happened on Dec. 10.
Daniel Alfredo Martinez, 21, was charged with fatally stabbing his 25-year-old sister, Maria Martinez, and seriously injuring another woman in a home in the 200 block of Ivanhoe Court in the Bragg Hill area.
Martinez faces charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder.
No trial date has been set in his case.
Of the area’s homicides in 2018, one in Spotsylvania appears to be the most convoluted and twisted slaying.
The July killing of Megan L. Metzger started as a missing person case, then police found her scorched car, and then a body, which turned out to be the 19-year-old Pamplin resident.
Police believe that Metzger was killed on July 17. Her 2004 Mazda was found burned two days later in Westmoreland County. Some of her remains were found on July 21 in King George County.
According to court records, the victim and four suspects charged in her death had spent the previous two or three days at a methamphetamine party hosted by one of the suspects at a Spotsylvania County home.
Two of the suspects rummaged through Metzger’s purse and found a card from a probation office that had the word “investigator” on it, leading at least one of them to suspect that Metzger might be a police informant. She was not.
Metzger was shot while being confronted.
The suspects are then accused of hatching a plan to dispose of her body. She was dismembered after death, with her head being found in a cooler in Fairview Beach.
Four people have been charged in connection with the slaying.
David Weston Newton, 20, of Fredericksburg, is charged with murder. He is accused of shooting Metzger to death at the home where the group was partying.
Keelyn Rose Codynah, 23, and Robert Patrick Keating, 25, both of Spotsylvania, face charges of being an accessory after the fact of murder.
Juan Benavidez III, 19, of King George, faces several charges in the case, including arson in connection with the torching of Metzger’s vehicle; being an accessory after the fact of murder; defiling and concealing a body.
No trial date has been scheduled yet.
The county’s second homicide occurred on Aug. 23, but felony murder charges weren’t filed until November.
According to court records, a 4-month-old girl was found dead in a motel in the Four Mile Fork area. Her parents, Cherie Danielle Sullivan and James Edward Cressel, both 31 of Spotsylvania, were initially charged with felony child abuse.
The baby had visible bruises on her forehead. The mother told investigators the child had tested positive for opiates when she was born, records state.
A grand jury indicted the parents on felony murder charges on Nov. 19. A jury trial has been set for March 6.
The county’s third homicide happened on Sept. 5.
Ike Lamont Phelps, 36, of Spotsylvania was found dead about 1 a.m. outside a residence in the 2200 block of Minnear Street. A man he was with said the two were walking to his house when two men confronted them and shot Phelps several times.
No arrests have been made in the case.
The county didn’t have any cases of homicide in 2018, but there was a suspicious death.
On Nov. 1, Beverly Shelton, 64, was apparently already lying on the road when a car struck her in the 13000 block around 8 p.m., according to the initial state police report.
Police believe she may have been struck by another vehicle first, while crossing the road. But it remains unclear what happened.
“We are still waiting for the results from the M.E.’s office on Ms. Shelton to determine cause of death,” said Virginia State Police Sgt. Keeli Hill. “Other than that, I do not have any further updates at this time.”
The one homicide in Orange happened at a laundromat on Feb. 13.
Alistair “Ali” Smith, 24, was shot in the head inside Wendell’s Place Laundromat along State Route 20 in Locust Grove that morning.
Locust Grove resident Michael Alan Humphries II, 36, was charged with murdering Smith.
According to the criminal complaint, Humphries turned himself in to police the same day Ali Smith was killed and said he shot a man. The defendant told police he believed Ali Smith and his wife were having an affair.
A multi-day trial is set to start on April 29.
Culpeper’s lone homicide happened on March 6 when Roger Davis was shot in the Shanktown area of Reva that morning, after working a night shift at Cintas.
He died later at the hospital.
No arrests have been made in the case.
The Culpeper Sheriff’s Office asks that anyone with information related to the shooting contact the them at 540/937-0061 or anonymously to Culpeper Crime Solvers at 540/727-0300 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.