Today, Friday, August 1, 2014, is the 41st year anniversary of a horrific murder which occurred in Richmond, VA. A young, dedicated, aggressive and intelligent 22 year old Patrolman was gunned down in a food stamp redemption store in the 800 block of West Marshall Street, Richmond, VA He was admired by all, loved by many, and friends with everyone. As a personal favor, I am respectfully requesting that ALL my Face Book Friends read this account and memorial, so that you too will know our friend and colleague , so that you too will too will know what he accomplished, that you too will know his name, and hopefully, you too, will speak his name. You have heard the adjectives "hero" and "warrior" used on many occasions for various levels of unselfishness and bravery. At the conclusion of this account. and memorial of the final minutes of the short life of Vernon Leigh Jarrelle, you will come to know genuine bravery and the true meaning of a "warrior."
VERNON LEIGH JARRELLE, JR.
It was August 1, 1973, and the food stamp distribution center, located on West Marshall Street in Richmond, VA, was open for business. Several employees were present, as were customers. Additionally, Richmond Patrolman Vernon Leigh Jarrelle, Jr. was present, in uniform and working an overtime security detail at the location He was casually speaking with one of the center's clients when Charles Greenway and Robert Hill entered. Greenway walked up to Vernon, and with no warning pointed his .32 caliber revolver at him, announcing "this is a robbery!" As Greenway aimed his weapon at Vernon's chest, standing only a few feet away, his coconspirator, also armed with a handgun, robbed the employee's of the food stamps and money . . . and robbed clients of their personal belongings.
During the 2-3 minutes in which this was taking place, Vernon saw what he perceived as an opportunity to protect the citizens of Richmond, and himself. He drew his service revolver, but Greenway shot him in the chest . . . 5 times. Vernon collapsed to the floor, lying motionless on his back, arms outstretched, still clutching his service revolver. He appeared so incapacitated, neither Greenway or Hill disarmed him. Moments later, Hill fled, followed by Greenway. As Greenway approached Vernon's apparent lifeless body, he stepped over him and paused, straddling Vernon, in an act of defiance. The witnesses reported that as Greenway straddled Vernon, looking menacingly at them, no part of Vernon moved . . . except his right arm and hand, from the elbow down. Vernon slowly and deliberately raised his service revolver, vertically, pointing "up" . . . and then, in what would be the last act of his brief 22 years, he squeezed off a .38 caliber jacketed hollow point Super Vel , sending it crashing into Greenway's chest and heart. The recoil from Vernon's shot, projected his service revolver from his hand, and several feet from his body. A stunned and mortally wounded Greenway staggered out of the building and collapsed as droves of Richmond Police were converging on the center, responding to calls of a police involved shooting.
A short time later, at the Medical College of Virginia, Greenway was pronounced dead at 3:09 PM . . . and a warrior and true hero, Vernon Leigh Jarrelle, Jr., was pronounced dead at 3:10 PM.
Patrolman Gary D. Taylor called me at home at approximately 3:30 PM . . . I'll never forget . . . He said "Jim, I'm afraid I have bad news for you . . . Vernon Jarrelle has been murdered." Vernon and I had completed our Task Force tour together less than 12 hours earlier, and we'd walked down the hall of 501 N. 9th together, to turn in our shotguns and portable radios. We were walking, talking and laughing, as we often did. It was 4:15 A.M. Vernon and I had graduated from the academy together in June 1972, were assigned to the same relief, walked downtown beats together and were promoted to the Task Force together in February 1973, the department's specialized enforcement unit. Now, Gary Taylor was telling me that he was dead . . . murdered. Like every other policeman, I got geared up and headed to the police department. "Pokey" Campbell, E.H. Stephenson (EOW 12/13/74) and I checked out shotguns & portable radios, found a police unit and headed out into the streets, looking for Hill. Our detectives had identified him and we all had his mug shot. We reeked havoc that night in Richmond looking for him . . . it was a fever pitch . . . but he was arrested days later, in another city. He was ultimately tried and convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and numerous other charges . . . he received a life sentence. In what can only be described as poetic justice, Robert Hill was stabbed to death by another convict, shortly after beginning his sentence.
I view this action as a justified, spontaneous, and unscheduled execution. (Incidintly, if that sounds a little "cold" . . if it sounds "jaded" . . . well, perhaps I am. However, I assure you, my police friends and I have "earned it.")
It was also learned by our detectives that the robbery/murder was an "inside job," . . . a conspiracy that involved one of the food stamp center's employees . . . Sandra Fogg. She was tried and convicted but was released well in advance of completing her original sentence. Sandra Fogg orchestrated the event . . . she KNEW a Richmond Police Officer would be present . . . and for many years now, she's been free . . . free, and living in Richmond, Virginia . . . Sandra Fogg . . . S-a-n-d-r-a F-o-g-g . . . (Update 8/1/14 - I recently learned that Sandra Fogg was murdered in Richmond's infamous Gilpen Court, several years ago, during a drug deal "gone bad." Now, all those involved in the murder of Vernon, are dead !!
Thank you for reading about Vernon Leigh Jarrelle, Jr., and what he did for you, his community and country on August 1, 1973 . . . 42 years ago today. He was a wonderful father, brother, son, nephew, cousin and friend . . . he was an outstanding policeman . . . he was RPD's 1972 Rookie of the Year . . . he captured the most wanted escapee in the State of Virginia, . . . when duty called, he was on the scene, fast . . . he was so loyal . . . so dedicated. Please, never forget . . . please, speak his name, today and always . . . tell a friend or family member about him . . . what he did for them . . .please speak his name . . . even if nobody is listening . . . Richmond Patrolman Vernon Leigh Jarrelle, Jr. . . . Never forget!
Written by his friend and fellow officer, Jim Crotty
P.S. I have been to hundreds of funerals for young law enforcement officers who either died, were killed or were murdered in the line of duty. I have listened to as many members of the clergy as they sincerely attempted to console those in attendance, however, most of their words, regardless of how well intended, did not bring me any comfort . . . until a funeral for a Prince George County, MD, at a young officer's funeral. With respect to this murdered officer, he said "It is far, far better to have lived 25 years, than to never have lived at all." With respect to Vernon Leigh Jarrelle, Jr., I'd like to relate the clergy member's sentiments, with some of mine interjected . . . "It is better to have lived just 22 years, and to have loved and to have been loved, than to never have lived and loved, at all." May God continue to bless and keep Richmond, VA Patrolman Vernon Leigh Jarrelle, Jr. I'd like to add this . . Vernon's beautiful and wholesome daughter, Katie, was just accepted, with a full academic scholarship, to Virginia Commonwealth University. Congratulation Katie, you Grand Daddy would have been so happy and proud . . and of your Mom, Joanne, too ! To all my fellow officers . . "Be Fast . . Be Fast . . the Blue shirts MUST win!" . . any other option is unacceptable !
Jim Crotty, Special Agent, ATF (RET)
Former Richmond, VA Police Officer and close friend of Vernon Jarrelle
August 1, 2014