RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Retesting of evidence has led law enforcement officials to identify a suspect in connection with the 1996 murders of two women in the Shenandoah National Park.

The FBI announced on Thursday that DNA evidence recovered from items found at the crime scene returned a CODIS hit to a man named Walter “Leo” Jackson, Sr. of Cleveland, Ohio.

Laura “Lollie” Winans and Julianne “Julie” Williams were found murdered at their campsite near the Skyland Resort on June 1, 1996. 

It is believed they were killed on May 24 of that year, and the National Park Service started searching for them after the women did not return home as planned and their family members became concerned.

In 2021, a new FBI investigative team took over the case to review all the evidence and leads that had been collected over the years.

This led to several items from the crime scene being retested and an accredited private lab was able to pull DNA from them.

That DNA profile was then submitted to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, resulting in a positive match to Jackson who was a convicted serial rapist.

In order to confirm the match, evidence recovered from Winans and Williams was directly compared to DNA that had been collected on a swab from Jackson, with the results confirming the CODIS hit.


Jackson died in prison in March 2018. He was incarcerated in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.

The FBI reports Jackson had a lengthy criminal history, which included kidnapping, rapes and assaults. He had been sentenced to prison on multiple occasions.

Work is ongoing to determine more about Jackson’s movements over the years to see if he can be connected to any other unsolved cases.

Jackson was a residential painter by trade, and he was an avid hiker who had previously visited the Shenandoah National Park.

He was also known to drive a 1984 chestnut brown AMC Eagle 30 or a 1979 Ford Econoline 250 van at the time of the murders in the national park.

Investigators say he would use temporary tags, alter license plates and frequently change vehicles.

While Winans and Williams were members of the LGBTQ+ community and the crime was hateful in nature, federal officials say there is no evidence to suggest that their sexual assaults or deaths were hate crimes.

Anyone with information about Jackson and his movements is asked to call (800) 225-5324 or click here.