Brutal crime: Culpeper authorities seek public's assistance
Culpeper Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Close and Sheriff James Branch Jr. are asking for help solving the horrific murder of mother-of-three Sheryl Warner, pictured here, on the fifth anniversary of the crime. Due to the Hook's abbreviated holiday publishing schedule and the unusually detailed nature of the press release, we are reprinting it here in its entirety and will report further in the near future:
SHERYL WARNER HOMICIDE
JOINT PRESS RELEASE OF COMMONWEALTH'S ATTORNEY GARY CLOSE AND SHERIFF JAMES BRANCH, JR.
As we reach the five-year anniversary of a brutal crime that shocked our community, the Culpeper County Commonwealth's Attorney and Sheriff's Offices are again seeking the assistance of the public with our investigation of the murder of Sheryl Warner of the Reva area of Culpeper County. We remain absolutely committed to solving this crime and are continuing to pursue new leads and re-examine existing evidence and information in light of advances in forensic technology and investigative techniques.
On Sunday evening, December 18, 2005, around 6:30 p.m., 37-year old Sheryl Warner was alone in her home located at 8445 James Monroe Highway, 29 South in Culpeper County, about three (3) miles before the Madison County line. She was on the telephone with her father, John Embrey, discussing the Washington Redskins recent win against the Dallas Cowboys. This phone call was interrupted when a male knocked on her front door, reported that his car had broken down, and asked to use her phone to call for assistance. His conversation suggested he was not alone. Sheryl Warner hung up the phone and was never heard from again.
Alerted by Sherri's family, responding fire and law enforcement personnel discovered her home set on fire and her bound, hanging and lifeless body in the basement. The cause of her death was a gunshot to her head. Her murder robbed her family of a beloved daughter and sister. Most tragic was that Sherri's three children–- aged 13, 8 and 10, lost their mother that night–- a week before Christmas.
Some eyewitnesses have reported a suspicious vehicle in the vicinity of Sherri's home that night. It may be the case that someone encountered the killer around the time of the crime and thought his behavior odd or frightening. Someone may have heard what was considered an unusual conversation about the murder. We are asking anyone with any information about the events of that night, even if you think it has already been reported, to contact us at the numbers or addresses listed below.
The person who murdered Sherri brought a lot of violence to the crime scene and his behavior suggests a degree of criminal versatility. He was able to con his way into her home, spend time there, brutally kill her, and then escape undetected. It is likely that this subject was no stranger to violence and criminality and that would be reflected in his arrest history and behavior with others in his life. Those who know him will note in him an ability to quickly move to explosive violence and then recover. Those close to him in his life, especially females, may have been the victims of his violent outbursts.
If we are to believe the suspect's own words, then he may not have been alone that night as he approached and entered Sherri's home. It is to that other person that we would also like to speak. Relationships and friendships can change or dissolve with time. People may question loyalties they've held. As time goes by, a person's conscience can motivate him or her to try to do the right thing and make up for past mistakes.
So we are offering this second person the chance to come clean and remove this burden and fear from your conscience and mind, remove yourself from harm's way, and help also to end the killer's victimization of others. We understand you may be afraid of the killer; we can protect you. We understand you may fear your involvement that night could expose you to punishment; your coming forward will go a long way in positively determining your future life. No one should live in fear or danger from this killer. No children should ever have to lose their mother at his hands again.
We may be contacted via telephone at 540-727-7523 or 540-727-3441. We can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com ; or via mail at James Branch, Jr., 110 W. Cameron Street or Gary L. Close, 118 W. Davis St., Culpeper Virginia 222701, or in person at 110 W. Cameron Street, or 118 W. Davis St. Culpeper, VA 22701.
There is a reward for information leading to the arrest of Sherri's killer.