By Joe Beck -- firstname.lastname@example.org
The homicide investigation into the death of Winchester Star reporter Sarah Libbey Greenhalgh remains "very active" a spokesman for the Fauquier County Sheriff's Office said Thursday.
Although police have not disclosed details about the investigation for weeks, Lt. James Hartman said his agency, the FBI and Virginia State Police continue to sift through evidence.
"It remains our No. 1 priority, and we're confident we're going to solve it, and the case is going to end up in court," Hartman said.
Hartman said he has noticed growing public uncertainty about whether the investigation is making any progress. He attributed that to the case's absence of any arrests.
"It's a very tedious, lengthy process to analyze this type of case," Hartman said. "The evidence, just the scientific part of it, takes weeks to accomplish. It's not unusual for it to take so long."
Firefighters discovered Greenhalgh's body while bringing a fire in her home under control on the morning of July 9. Police called to the scene classified her death as a homicide the same day. Since then, they have announced no cause of death or identified any suspects, although they have described several individuals as "persons of interest."
One of them is John Sheldon Kearns, 49, of Gainesville. Police obtained a search warrant for his apartment at 7500 Equinox Landing where neighbors reported seeing Greenhalgh speaking with a man on the night of July 8, the night before her body was discovered.
Kearns is scheduled to appear in Prince William County Court later this month for a hearing to determine his probation status. He is accused of making a phone call to his ex-wife in violation of a protective order issued after they were divorced July 19.
Kearns's attorney, Scott Hook of Gainesville, has said his client was not involved in Greenhalgh's death and has been cooperating with the police investigation.
Nevertheless, Hook has described Kearns as "concerned" about the course of the investigation. Police questioned him for six hours and accused him of "doing the crime,"
as part of their investigation, Hook said.
Hook said he believes police consider Kearns a suspect, although they have refused to publicly say so.
Hartman refused to comment on anyone being questioned in the investigation.
He said investigators continue to comb through search warrants, subpoenas and electronic data while waiting for a final autopsy report and results from the state forensics laboratory.
"We have asked for priority, and they have pushed us to the front of the line," Hartman said of the forensics laboratory. "But we're not the only law enforcement agency with a homicide to investigate. These things take time."
Hartman said investigators continue to field tips and other information from the public, some of which he called "valuable" to the investigation.
"We are still getting calls from the public," Hartman said. "I encourage that to continue."
Anyone with information about the case should called Fauquier County Crime Solvers at 540-349-1000 or the Sheriff's Office criminal investigation division at 540-422-8650.