Deceased Virginia fisherman Alan Wilmer ID’d as cold case killer

A fisherman who died over six years ago was named this week as the prime suspect in three cold-case killings in Virginia – including a pair that was once linked to an infamous slaying spree known as the “Colonial Parkway Murders.”

Alan W. Wilmer Sr. was linked through DNA evidence to the 1987 shooting deaths of David L. Knobling and Robin M. Edwards, as well as the 1989 strangulation murder of Teresa Lynn Spaw Howell, Virginia State Police announced Monday.

Wilmer died in December 2017 at age 63, the state police explained.

“Wilmer had no felonies on his criminal record, so his DNA had never been obtained until it was necessary for identification purposes following his death,” the statement read.

“The Virginia Department of Forensic Science in 2023 issued a ‘Certificate of Analysis’ confirming a genetic match to Wilmer based on evidence collected from the [1987 shooting] and [1989 strangling] victims,” the officials added.

Alan W. Wilmer Sr. died in December 2017. Virginia State Police

If Wilmer were alive today, “charges would be filed against him in connection with the three homicides,” the Virginia State Police confirmed.

The bodies of Knobling, 20, and Edwards, 14, were found on the south bank of the James River in Isle of Wight County on Sept. 23 1987, authorities said.

Both victims had been fatally shot, and Edwards was sexually assaulted.

Police announced the breakthrough at a press conference on Monday. Virginia State Police

The double homicide eventually became known as part of the “Colonial Parkway Murders,” or the unsolved killings of four couples around the scenic roadway between Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown between 1986 and 1989, CBS News explained.

Now that Knobling and Edwards’ killing is considered solved, there is no forensic or physical evidence suggesting their murder is connected to the other Colonial Parkway cases – though those investigations remain active, Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller said at Monday’s press conference.

The state police also shared a joint statement from the Knobling and Edwards’ families.

Robin M. Edwards, 14, was found shot died in September 1987. Facebook / Colonial Parkway Murders

“For 36 years, our families have lived in a vacuum of the unknown. We have lived with the fear of worrying that a person capable of deliberately killing Robin and David could attack and claim another victim,” the emotional acknowledgement read.

“Now we have a sense of relief and justice knowing that he can no longer victimize another. His death will not allow us to seek out the answers to countless questions that have haunted us for so long.”

Wilmer’s DNA also tied him to the killing of 29-year-old Howell, who was last seen outside a popular nightclub in Hampton in the early hours of July 1, 1989, police said.

David L. Knobling was killed alongside Robin Edwards over 35 years ago. Facebook / Colonial Parkway Murders

Around 10 a.m. that morning, her body was found on a construction site about 11 miles from where Knobling and Edwards were found.

Howell had been strangled and sexually assaulted, authorities said. Her killing was not linked to the Colonial Parkway deaths.

“[Law enforcement’s] dedication, relentless efforts and evolving technology have brought us closure that we have sought over the last 34 years,” Howell’s family said in a statement shared by Hampton Police Captain Rebecca Warren.

Teresa Lynn Spaw Howell was found strangled and sexually assaulted in July 1989. Virginia State Police

“While we are grateful for the closure that has been provided, nothing will bring Terry back. The void left by her absence over the years is inexpressible,” it concluded.

Police did not say how Wilmer – who went by the nickname “Pokey” – died.

The suspect was 5’5” tall and weighed about 165 pounds, the state police added.

He had sandy-brown hair, blue eyes, and a close-cut beard.

Family members of Robin Edward wipe their eyes during the Monday press conference. AP

Around the time of the murders, Wilmer drove several pickup trucks, including a blue 1966 Dodge Fargo pickup truck with the Virginia license plate “EM-RAW,” authorities noted.

Wilmer mostly made his living from farming clams and oysters, but also had a tree service business known as Better Tree Service.

He sometimes lived on his commercial fishing boat, the ‘Denni Wade,” which he docked at local marinas and shipyards.

Wilmer drove a “distinctive” blue truck, the state police noted. Virginia State Police

He was an experienced hunter and belonged to at least one hunt club in the area.

Police are now examining Wilmer’s possible ties to additional cases, and are appealing to the public for any information they may have.

“We recognize relationships and loyalties change over time. As do people and their perspectives. There are occasions where people who may have had knowledge of an incident didn’t feel comfortable coming forward with that information in the past, but we want them to know it’s not too late for them to step forward,” Brian Dugan, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Norfolk, said at the presser.


Written by SaleemBaloch

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