By Sally Voth -- email@example.com
WOODSTOCK -- A Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office investigator has been honored with a state gang investigator's award for his work on a brutal rape case in Woodstock.
Sgt. Tom Shelton was one of four investigators to receive the honor of Gang Investigator of the Year from the Virginia Gang Investigators Association in Virginia Beach on Tuesday.
They were nominated by Assistant Attorney General Phil Figura, who runs the Shenandoah Valley multijurisdictional grand jury.
Figura prosecuted five South Side Locos gang members who raped two teenage girls at a party in a house on Jadwyn Road nearly five years ago. The final defendant was sentenced in May, and the men each got sentences of eight to 20 years to serve in prison.
Shelton was the lead investigator on the case, said Figura, who prosecuted the gang members in Shenandoah County Circuit Court. The other award recipients, who are all with Fairfax County police, are Anthony Erway, Brian Storm and Ramon Rodgers, Figura said.
"I'm really proud of these guys for what they did on that case," he said. "We worked in tandem with them to put the case together."
The gang investigator award usually only has one recipient, but "it takes more than one person to put together a really good case, and that's what this was," Figura said.
"I nominated them as a team because each one brought their own special talent to the investigation," he said.
It's difficult to put a case together so many years after the crimes have happened, and without knowing the perpetrators' names, according to Figura.
"It was not the normal investigation," he said. "To try to find out who was called by a nickname five years ago is not an easy thing to do when they do not even live in your area."
He also spoke about the heinousness of the rapes.
"They were presented the award because, quite frankly, their peers, other investigators from around the state were ... there were some tears in the room when they learned what happened to these girls, and were just moved with what it took to put that case together and the dedication they had to ensure that justice was served on the people that did it," Figura said.
On Wednesday, Shelton declined to comment beyond saying he was honored to be recognized, but added the investigation was a joint effort.
Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy C. Carter said he was proud of Shelton's work. "He deserves it," he said.
Carter also praised the girls who were attacked that November 2006 night.
"We wouldn't have been able to put that case together without the help of these victims," he said. "Tom certainly did a lot of hard work on that case and I'm proud of Tom for that, but I'm just as proud of the victims and the help they gave us. The strength that they provided, the statements and the help that they gave our investigators was immeasurable."