Retested evidence could help solve 2005 murder of Culpeper woman - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Retested evidence could help solve 2005 murder of Culpeper County woman

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Sherri Warner Sherri Warner

There is new information in the 2005 murder of Sherri Warner, the mother of three who was found viciously murdered inside her Culpeper County home.

Investigators say scientific evidence recently reexamined could eventually identify a person or persons who were at the scene of the crime.

Warner, then 37 years old, was found the evening of December 18 inside her burning basement shot, bound and hanged.

Nothing was taken from the home and she was not sexually assaulted.

The motive is unclear. Relatives say she had no enemies. Even her divorce was amicable.

But investigators have now revealed evidence left at the scene may eventually close the case.

Investigators say Warner was alone inside her home just outside Culpeper when her dad called to talk about the Redskins. It was around 6:30 p.m. and the home team had just beaten the cowboys.

"And the first words out of her mouth are, ‘Pop, can you believe that game?' And we talked a little bit more about the game and I heard a knock, there was a knock on the door," said Sherri's father, John Embrey, in an interview Tuesday.

Embrey says he overheard a man telling Warner his car had broken down and asked if he could use the phone to call for help.

It was the last time the two would talk. Warner was found dead an hour and a half later.

"She would help anyone and it could have been her downfall," said Ellen Lemonds, Sherri's sister. "She apparently opened the door to help someone in need and that's the last we heard from her, but she would have done anything for anyone."

A year after the murder, a man named Ricky Gray, a convicted killer, was indicted for the murder, but the charges were dropped when evidence appeared to clear him.

Now the sheriff's office thinks newly tested forensic evidence may hold the key to the case.

"We assigned new detectives to this case in January of this year," said Sheriff Scott Jenkins in an interview Tuesday. "They've specialized in working on just this cold case. After a lot of time dedicated to the investigation, we are fortunate at this point we have come to a new key piece of evidence, and based on this scientific evidence, it will allow us to likely identify the person or persons that were at the scene."

A law enforcement source familiar with the investigation says the evidence is DNA.

"Sherri was loved and very much missed by everybody," says her father. "You will have to excuse me, but I miss my baby."

Embrey says after all this time, he's hopeful the investigation is finally on the right path.

"It's very refreshing that they are working on it so diligently, and we all hope something will come of this," he says.

Investigators believe the killer was not alone that night, and in an open letter from the sheriff published Tuesday in the local Culpeper newspaper, he asked that person to step forward and "remove this burden and fear from your conscience and mind."


Open letter from Sheriff Scott Jenkins regarding Sherri Warner investigation

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