Vernon, this is the first year I failed to leave you a reflection on your EOW date. I spent all my effort on posts on Face Book, and law enforcement groups on Face Book. I think you'll forgive me when you read this, which I posted a few minutes after midnight and several other times throughout the day. I love you buddy . . Joanne is fine and your beautiful Granddaughter is doing well at VCU. I'm looking out for Joanne . . rest easy. Hopefully, MANY people will read this detailed account of the incredible, unbelievable and truly heroic actions you took during that armed robbery . . PLEASE read this friends . .
Today, Saturday, August 1, 2015, is the 42nd year anniversary of a horrific murder which occurred in Richmond, VA. Patrolman Vernon Leigh Jarrelle, Jr., a young, dedicated, aggressive and intelligent 22 year old Patrolman, was gunned down in a food stamp distribution store in the 800 block of West Marshall Street, in downtown Richmond, VA. Vernon 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 in protecting you, that you too will remember his name, and hopefully, you too, will speak his name. You have heard the adjectives "hero" and "warrior," articulated on many occasions for hightened 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." These adjectives are rarely achieved at the elevated levels as Vernon Jarrelle, achieved, on that ominous day . .
VERNON LEIGH JARRELLE, JR.
At approximately 4:00 A.M. Vernon and I completed our 8 hour tour of duty on the department's selective enforcement unit, known as the Task Force. We worked high crime areas of the city, during high crime hours, i.e., 8:00 P.M. to 4:00 A.M. That morning,Vernon and I turned our police vehicles in at the same time, walked in the main entrance at police headquarters at 501 N. 9th Street, walked past the information desk, and down the hall to the patrol division to turn in our portable radios and shotguns. As we walked, we casually spoke about the night's activities and as always, Vernon spoke of his new baby girl, Joanne. I asked him if he was working overtime again today, and as always, he told me he was . . beginning in a few hours, then coming to work that evening at 8:00 A.M. We turned our equipment in, and drove to our respective homes. Now, it was the early afternoon of August 1, 1973, and the food stamp distribution center, located in the 800 block of 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 overtime. He was casually speaking with one of the center's clients when Charles Greenway and Robert Hill entered. Greenway walked up to Vernon, and suddenly pointed a .32 caliber revolver at him, announcing "this is a robbery!" As Greenway aimed his weapon at Vernon's chest, standing only a few feet from him, his co conspirator, also armed with a handgun, robbed the employee's of the food stamps and money . . . he also robbed clients of their personal belongings. During the 2-3 minutes in which this was taking place, Vernon saw what he perceived to be an opportunity to protect the citizens of Richmond, and himself. He drew his service revolver, but Greenway shot him in the chest . . . 5 times. Four of those 5 bullets entered his heart. Vernon collapsed to the floor, lying motionless on his back, arms outstretched, still clutching his service revolver. As Vernon lay there, his life almost gone and quickly slipping away, appearing to be dead, to all present, he was thinking . . focusing on the objective . . He appeared so incapacitated, neither Greenway or Hill disarmed him. I KNOW what Vernon was thinking . . any officer who knew Vernon well and who had worked along side him KNEW what he was thinking . . I assure you, I promise you, Vernon was thinking "NOBODY is going to murder a Richmond Policeman, and live to speak about it . . NOBODY is going to murder Vernon Leigh Jarrelle, Jr., and live to talk about it . . I have GOT to hang on . . and take my shot!!! (That's what Vernon Jarrelle was thinking). Minutes later, Hill fled, followed by Greenway. As Greenway approached Vernon's apparent lifeless body, he stepped over him and paused, straddling him, 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, squeezed off a 125 grain, .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." Besides having been with Vernon just hours earlier, he and I had graduated from the police academy together in June 1972, were assigned to the same patrol relief, walked downtown beats together and were promoted to the Task Force together in February 1973. Now, Gary G. Taylor was telling me that he was dead . . . murdered. Now, there was only one thing to do. Like every other policeman in Richmond, I immediately got geared up and headed in to the police department. "Pokey" Campbell, E.H. Stephenson (EOW 12/13/74) and I checked out shotguns, extra shotgun shells, portable radios, then found a police unit and headed out into the mean 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. Personally, I view this action as a justified, spontaneous, and unscheduled execution. (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
Special Agent, ATF (Ret.)
Former Richmond, VA Police
August 4, 2015