Real Name: Veronica Lynn Jefferson
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Date: May 11, 1988
Details: Twenty-four-year-old Tina Jefferson was a government accountant and a newcomer to the Washington, D.C., area; she was originally from Oklahoma. She had recently become a CPA and was working as a finance officer for the CIA. At 3am on May 11, 1988, she was found murdered behind McKinley Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia. She had been raped and then shot at point blank range. Her clothes were found nearby with blood stains on it. There were no tears and rips in them which would normally be found in a stranger attack. Their condition suggested that she knew her killer.
The day after Tina's body was found, her car, a Red Camero with the personalized license plate "MS VLJ", was discovered parked at the Giant supermarket near Columbia Pike, just two blocks from her apartment. It was unlocked and the keys were missing. It was later determined that it had been wiped clean of fingerprints. The interior was also examined; a time stamped receipt showed that she had left the supermarket at 9:30pm. Surprisingly, her purse was found with all of the money and credit cards still inside. A box cutter was also found inside; it is believed to have belonged to her killer. This along with the location of her car led investigators to look into the employees of the supermarket.
Tina was last seen alive the night before at the supermarket. Authorities believe she may have met her killer there that night, and that she may have known him. Investigators questioned the store's 186 employees. One individual admitted that he had seen her at the supermarket that night. He was able to describe her all the way down to her red shoes. Investigators soon narrowed down the employees to six potential suspects.
Investigators took blood samples from their suspects. Their blood was compared to body fluids found at the crime scene; the fluids showed a rare blood type that belonged to only 4% of the population. DNA from the suspects was also compared to DNA from the body fluids found at the crime scene. None of the suspects matched; they were all cleared as a result. As a result, investigators were back to square one.
Four days after Tina's murder, off-duty police officer Douglas Taylor came forward, believing that he had seen her and her car on the night of her murder. At 9:45pm on May 10, he saw her car make a right turn and go over the curb while doing so. He followed it, identifying it based on the personalized plates. He noticed that the driver was very involved in a conversation with the passenger, as he was driving slow and weaving up the road. It did not appear to him that there was any trouble in the car.
At one point, the car stopped and the woman exited it. She leaned on the passenger side door and the two talked for about twenty seconds. She did not appear to be in distress. Officer Taylor planned to pull them over for driving erratically. Unfortunately, he decided not to do so and passed by. Authorities believe that the male driver then took her out of the car and led her to the schoolyard where he then raped and killed her.
From Tina's friends and roommates, investigators received a list of possible suspects, as it appeared that her killer was someone that she had known. However, DNA testing cleared all of them as well. This case remained at a standstill for about a year.
Then, in May 1989, John and Betty Flanagan came forward claiming to have seen Tina at the supermarket on the night of their murder. When John went to the deli counter, he noticed her. While John was ordering, an unidentified African-American man arrived and began flirting with her. He did not believe that the man had previously known her. A few minutes later, Betty was walking to their car when she noticed Tina putting her groceries in hers. She saw the man approach and talk to Tina. Based on the body language, Betty felt that something was wrong and that she was looking for a way out of the situation. However, she did not believe that the situation was serious enough that Tina needed help.
Investigators believe that the Flanagans may have seen Tina with her killer. It appeared to them that the man at the store was a stranger. However, the man that Officer Taylor had seen with Tina appeared to have known her. Investigators are not certain if she met with two different men that night. It is possible that the killer was someone that had been involved with Tina that no one else was aware of.
Suspects: A composite sketch was made of the man seen with Tina the night of her murder. He was an African-American male who was 6'3", 170 pounds. He was a clean-cut bodybuilder type. He is the prime suspect in this case. It is believed that the two had known each other.
Several employees at the supermarket, along with several of Tina's male friends and acquaintances were questioned. However, DNA testing eliminated them as suspects.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 1, 1989 episode, and was rebroadcast on August 29, 2001, after it was connected to that of Warren Fulton and Rachael Raver. It was also documented on On the Case with Paula Zahn.
Results: Solved. In 2000, the DNA found on Tina's body was matched to DNA found on the body of twenty-two-year-old Rachael Raver. She had been murdered in December 1988 along with her boyfriend, Warren Fulton. After this connection, authorities re-interviewed Tina's family; her sister, Crystal, remembered visiting her in summer 1987 at her apartment complex in Virginia and met a man named "Tony", who also lived there and may have been her boyfriend. Investigators tried to identify him but were unsuccessful. However, he is no longer believed to be involved in this case.
In August 2005, DNA found on Tina and Rachael's bodies was matched to a convicted murderer, Alfredo Prieto. Investigators learned that he had lived in Arlington during the 1980s. It is now believed that he was responsible for at least nine murders in California and Virginia in the late 1980s.
Prieto was extradited to Virginia from California, where he was on death row for a 1990 murder. He was convicted of Warren and Rachael's murders and sentenced to death. On October 1, 2015, he was executed by lethal injection.
Sadly, Tina's father, Henry, passed away in 2007 at the age of sixty-four.
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- Prieto vs. Commonwealth (2012)
- 3 murder victims' families prepare for Alfredo Prieto's execution
- Judge allows execution of Alfredo Prieto to proceed
- Serial Killer Alfredo Prieto Executed in Virginia
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- Tina Jefferson on Find a Grave