Diligence by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit contributed to a guilty verdict Thursday (April 26) in a 30-year-old murder case.
A Loudoun County jury found Timothy W. Warnick, of West Virginia, guilty of killing Henry E. Ryan in September of 1988. Ryan was last seen on Sept. 30, 1988, near the Shenandoah River on Bloomery Road in West Virginia.
According to witnesses, Ryan was last seen going on a beer run with Warnick. Ryan, who was 29 at the time, never returned. His body was found more than six months later in a shallow grave off Route 9 in Loudoun County.
Warnick, now 59, was found guilty of first-degree murder and robbery. The jury recommended a sentence of life plus five years. Warnick was remanded to the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center to await sentencing.
The case received its break from continued interviews of family members, friends, and witnesses by detectives with the Cold Case Unit, which was established when Sheriff Mike Chapman assumed his duties in 2012.
Detectives established a timeline of events, and continuing investigation revealed information of Warnick’s involvement and actions leading up to Ryan’s death. Warnick was indicted by a Loudoun County Grand Jury back in June 2016.
“Justice has finally been served due to the dedicated efforts of our detectives and the prosecutorial team involved in this case,” Chapman said. “Members of the Cold Case Unit continue to work to solve cases, such as (Ryan’s), through advances in technology and investigative techniques.”
Chapman implemented a cold case initiative upon taking office in January of 2012 to take a closer look at unsolved cases the LCSO has investigated in past years. This initiative resulted in the formation of the Cold Case Unit in April of 2012, which allowed detectives to focus on death investigation cases that have grown cold over the years.