Last Updated on September 17, 2022 by Ben Oakley
Here are five Virginia cold cases that remain unsolved, from a 1962 murder in Purcellville to a 2012 murder of a reporter in Fauquier County.
1. Morton and Sylvea Grossman
Location: Fairfax County. Date: 1st Oct 1981
62-year-old Morton Grossman, and his wife, 58-year-old Sylvea lived in Wolf Trap Woods in Fairfax County, Virginia. Sylvea owned an antique shop 14 miles away in Bethesda, Maryland.
The police were called to the antiques shop as the door was reported to be open. They went to the Grossman’s large property to inform them but found the couple lying face down near each other.
Both had been shot dead. Police reported seeing artwork removed from the walls but not stolen, as if the perpetrators of the crime were looking for something specific.
Morton was a former Harvard professor and consultant to the World Bank and many governments; he had also published an economics textbook. Despite having DNA on record, the murders remain unsolved.
Send any information on the case to FCPDColdCase@fairfaxcounty.gov
2. Ursula Haberland
Location: Loudoun County. Date: 23rd Aug 2001
81-year-old German immigrant Ursula Haberland was found shot dead in her home on Greengarden Road, Loudon County.
Her home had been ransacked, leading investigators to suspect the murder had been the result of a robbery gone wrong. In 2004, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) Cold Case Unit received a call from an anonymous caller.
The caller gave them the names of two people who could have been involved. The LCSO followed up the call and requested further information, but none was forthcoming.
Ursula’s murder has gone unsolved for more than 20 years and is one of the most notorious Virginia cold cases.
3. John Churchill Newcomb
Location: Purcellville, Loudoun County. Date: 28th Feb 1962
Over 60 years ago, an attack in Purcellville, Virginia, left one person dead and another seriously injured. John Churchill Newcomb was located inside his farmhouse with his housekeeper at the time of the attack.
Two people entered the property and attacked the pair. John died from the stab wounds suffered in the attack. Two suspects were later arrested based on the confession of a prisoner but neither suspect was charged or convicted
4. Bryan Michael Mace
Location: Midland, Fauquier County. Date: 9th Apr 2003
One of the most interesting Virginia cold cases is that of 20-year-old Bryan Michael Mace. Interesting because for 20 years, the case remains unsolved, despite different detectives looking into it.
On the morning of 9th April 2003, Bryan’s stepfather, Carlo, went to his home in a rural part of Fauquier County, Virginia to pick up Bryan. They were due to work on a roofing job together.
Carlo went to the home because Bryan was not picking up his phone. When Carlo entered the home, he found the basement area had been burned and Bryan had been shot dead.
Investigators learned that Bryan had left his home the night before to visit a local Blockbuster store to pick up a video game. While he was in Blockbuster, a group of robbers ransacked the house to steal his father’s guns and other belongings.
When Bryan returned home, he entered through the basement garage, where the robber’s car was parked. Before he could escape, he was shot dead and the basement set alight, burning Bryan’s body in the process.
For 20 years, the murder has baffled investigators and the true crime community. The murder was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It remains unsolved.
5. Sarah Libbey Greenhalgh
Location: Fauquier County. Date: 9th Jul 2012
Winchester Star reporter, 48-year-old Sarah Libbey Greenhalgh was found fatally stabbed in the neck in the bedroom of her Upperville cottage. The cottage had also been set on fire.
She had been seen arguing with her on-off boyfriend, John Kearns, the night before. He was named as a suspect two years later in 2014 but there has been no evidence to prove he killed her.
Kearns was first questioned nine hours after the body was found, and he suspected that Sarah had taken her own life. He was found to have significant injuries to his fists, but he was also a Karate instructor, and the injuries were consistent with his sport.
Despite the circumstantial evidence, Kearns denied murdering Sarah and had no motive to do so. Ten years later, the murder remains unsolved.