Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case detectives notched a victory this week when a grand jury handed up an indictment for the suspect in a 28-year-old murder.
Timothy W. Warnick, 58, has been charged with first-degree murder and robbery in the 1988 death of Henry E. Ryan. If convicted, he faces a sentence of 20 years to life in prision.
Warnick is in custody in Florida on unrelated charges and the timing of his extradition to Virginia was not immediately known.
Ryan, 29, was last seen on Sept. 30, 1988, leaving a roadside pull off along the Shenandoah River on Bloomery Road in West Virginia. Witnesses at the time said he went on a beer run with Warnick and another unidentified male. He did not return.
On March 14, 1989, Ryan’s body was found in a shallow grave off of Rt. 9 in Loudoun County near the West Virginia border. An autopsy concluded he was murdered.
Cold case detectives re-interviewed family members, friends, and witnesses and worked to established a timeline of events leading up to Ryan’s death, with the evidence pointing to Warnick’s involvement.
Sheriff Mike Chapman established the Cold Case unit after taking office in 2012. Investigators assigned to the unit are provided time to focus on unsolved death cases and to review evidence with the benefit of advances in technology and other investigative techniques.
Chapman said bringing charges in Ryan’s case was gratifying. “We want to make sure that none of our victims are forgotten,” he said.