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FBI uses Sofia Silva’s slaying to launch series on serial killers

The FBI used this image to introduce its series on serial killers.

The FBI this week used the tragic disappearance of Spotsylvania County teenager Sofia Silva to launch an online series on serial killers.

Sofia, 16, disappeared from in front of her home 17 years ago, the FBI noted in its piece, launched one day after the anniversary.

In Serial Killers, Part 1: The FBI’s Role Takes Shape, the FBI mentioned her case because it introduced the series with her killer, Richard Marc Evonitz. Evonitz, who lived in Spotsylvania at the time of Sofia’s 1996 death, committed suicide in June 2002 as police were about to arrest him in Florida.

He was linked by forensic evidence examined at the FBI’s lab in Quantico to Sofia’s death and that of two other Spotsylvania County girls who were abducted in May 1997.

The article states that Evonitz “is suspected of more homicides and other attacks.”

The statement is interesting in light of a Special Report by The Free Lance-Star in 2007 that showed officials with the FBI and Virginia law enforcement stood in the way of using forensic science to evaluate whether Evonitz was responsible for a series of unsolved slayings in central Virginia in 1996.

Their failure to conduct the forensic exams was in direct contradiction to  statements in August and September 2002 after Evonitz was linked to the Spotsylvania slayings. Authorities with the FBI and Virginia State Police said then that evidence from Evonitz would be evaluated to see if he had committed other unsolved crimes, including those in Virginia.

That made sense in light of a statement Evonitz made to one of his sisters while fleeing police that he had committed “more crimes than he could remember.”

Law enforcement became aware of Evonitz in June 2002 after a South Carolina teen he had abducted and sexually assaulted escaped from his apartment.

The following unsolved slayings occurred in central Virginia while Evonitz lived in the region and was known to troll the area for victims.

  • Alicia Showalter Reynolds, 25, abducted from Culpeper County on March 2, 1996. Found dead in the Culpeper community of Lignum on May 7, 1996.
  • Julie Williams, 24, and Lollie Winans, 26, killed at their campsite at Shenandoah National Park in May 1996.
  • Thelma Scroggins, 74, killed in her home in the Culpeper County community of Lignum on July 13, 1996.
  • Anne Carolyn McDaniel, 20, left a group home in the town of Orange on Sept. 18, 1996 and was found dead in Culpeper County, not far from Lignum on Sept. 22, 1996.




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  • garrettwatson

    Why has his DNA never been checked compared to other cases?

  • Name

    I’m not an authority but two things stick out in this article. One is Lignum is not a real good place to live and two the 4 names mentioned do not fit Evonitz’s profile of kidnapping and molesting young girls. The victims mentioned were all older people. Just saying.

    • Micah

      the fact that three of the four happened in lignum/bodies were found in lignum within a four month time period suggests they are most likely related.

      • roget

        I agree there has got to be some connection, unless one or both of the murders after Alicia Showalter was found, were by copycat killers. Very sad.

  • William F Thomas

    The FBI still sounds a little defensive regarding the longstanding request by Virginia victim’s families to compare known serial killer Richard Marc Evonitz’ DNA samples against numerous other unsolved murders and disappearances in the Central Virginia area from that timeframe. Once again, we call of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Virginia State Police to compare those cases where such evidence exists and eliminate or confirm Evonitz as a person of interest in these still unsolved cases. The families deserve more attention than we have received so far from the FBI and the Virginia State Police. New FBI Director James Comey, are you listening?

    Bill Thomas, Los Angeles, CA
    Brother of Cathleen Thomas
    Colonial Parkway Murders

    • roget

      Mr. Thomas, I am so sorry for your family’s loss. Those of us who lived in Va. at the time still remember. What can we do to pressure authorities to compare Evonitz’ DNA with that collected in unsolved cases when he was known to live here?

  • becky

    Pay close attention to the dates. All within two months of each murder!