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Update: Man turns himself in, charged with murder, police report

RELATED: See more crime news from the Fredericksburg region

MORE: Read more Stafford County news

UPDATE: (10/8/13 11:20 a.m.)

A man wanted for questioning in connection with the weekend slaying of a Stafford woman has been arrested and charged with her murder.

John Douglas Cornell

John Douglas Cornell, 45, is accused of killing 59-year-old Roberta Dews at her home at 21 Kellogg Mill Road in the Hartwood area. Dews, who had last been seen alive on Saturday, was found by a family member Sunday, police said.

Police have still not released the cause of death or many other details about the case, citing the ongoing investigation.

According to Sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy, Cornell called the Stafford County Emergency Communications Center at 7 a.m. Tuesday and said he was in a parking lot on State Route 218 (White Oak Road) near the King George-Stafford line and wanted to turn himself in.

He was standing next to Dews’ stolen Chevrolet van when deputies arrived and was taken into custody without incident.

Information obtained during the ensuing investigation resulted in Cornell being charged with first-degree murder. He was already charged with grand larceny in the theft of Dews’ van.

Police would not discuss the connection between Cornell and Dews, but Cornell has listed Dews’ address as his own in numerous transactions made at local pawn shops, sources said.

Original post follows:


Police are seeking a tan or gold 1999 Chevrolet Venture minivan, similar to the van shown here. The minivan has a rusty trailer hitch and has Virginia tags JAH–1325.

BY KEITH EPPS / THE FREE LANCE–STAR Stafford County authorities are looking for a man in connection with a homicide that occurred west of the county courthouse over the weekend.

John Douglas Cornell, 45, of Stafford is wanted for questioning in the death of 59-year-old Roberta Dews, who was found dead at her home Sunday. Dews, who lived at 21 Kellogg Mill Road, had last been seen alive Saturday, Stafford Sheriff’s Office spokesman Bill Kennedy said. Cornell, who police described as a “known associate” of Dews, is charged with grand larceny of a vehicle in connection with Dews’ missing car. He has not been charged in her slaying. Kennedy would not say how Dews was killed or elaborate on her relationship with Cornell and why police believe he took her minivan. According to Kennedy, a relative found Dews Sunday and immediately called 911. The relative initially thought that Dews had suffered a heart attack, but Detective Todd Nosal’s investigation quickly indicated that she was a homicide victim. Kennedy said Cornell had access to her vehicle, a tan or gold 1999 Chevrolet Venture van, extended version. The minivan has a rusty trailer hitch and has Virginia tags JAH–1325. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Cornell or the van is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 540/658-4400, Nosal at 540/658-4450 or Crime Solvers at 540/659-2020. Keith Epps: 540/374-5404 kepps@freelancestar.com

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/newsdesk/2013/10/07/stafford-seeks-man-van-in-homicide-probe/