On the morning of Saturday, March 2, 1996, 25-year-old Alicia Showalter Reynolds said goodbye to her husband Mark & headed out at around 7:30 am. Alicia had graduated from Harrisonburg High School & got her undergraduate degree at Goshen College; at the time, she was a graduate pharmacology student at Johns Hopkins University who lived in Baltimore, Maryland. Harley Showalter, Alcia’s dad said that that she was committed & focused on research & had been part of a research project to develop vaccines to fight bacteria in lesser-developed countries.
That morning, Alicia was driving 150 miles to spend the day shopping with her mom, Sadie, in Charlottesville, Virginia; according to Google maps it’s an approximately 3.5 hour drive. She was due to meet her mom at 10:30 am at the mall. Sadie waited for her daughter for over an hour & when she still hadn’t arrived, she called Mark. He said it was possible that weather conditions could have delayed her, but after waiting several hours, Sadie left since Alicia still hadn’t arrived. Sadie recalled being so excited to spend the day with Alicia, thankful that she was willing to make the trip to meet her that day. Seeing that it was only 1996, many people did not own cell phones; Sadie had gotten one earlier that year, but Alicia didn’t have one. Sadie remembers sitting outside the mall, waiting for her daughter, anxiety growing as the time ticked by, thinking, “Is that her car? Is that her car?” At about 2pm, Sadie accepted defeat, realizing that after being 3.5 hours late, Alicia wasn’t coming.
Around 6pm that day, Alicia’s white Mercury Tracer was found fifty miles away, parked along the shoulder of Route 29 near Culpeper, Virginia. A napkin had been placed under the windshield wiper which could have signified that she had car trouble. After looking at Alicia’s car though, nothing seemed wrong. Police found Sadie’s cell phone number written on a piece of paper inside the car; the night before, Alicia had asked her mom for her number so that she had it with her for the drive.
The next day, March 3, police set up a roadblock & spoke with witnesses who said that they had seen Alicia along Route 29 with the hood of her car raised, talking to a man with a dark pickup truck parked behind her on the side of the road, possibly a blue or green Nissan. They said he was between 5’10”-6’0”, between 35-45 years old, with a medium build and light to medium brown hair.
Eventually, 23 women came forward & police discovered that between February & March of 1996, while driving along Route 29, an unidentified man had tried to get them to pull over. He got their attention by honking his horn, flashing his lights, waving his arm out the window and yelling at them, saying there was something wrong with their car. An example would be, there were sparks coming from underneath. Some women ignored him & kept driving. Those that did this said that, in response, he would get furious, mouthing curse words & banging his hands on the steering wheel, though he would eventually drive away. At least 3 women did stop & he took them to a pay phone without any issues. This all happened between Manassas and Charlotsville, Virginia. Several of the women spoken to, described seeing a green tarp and toolbox in the back of the man’s truck.
A week before Alicia disappeared, a woman from Quantico, VA told police that she was driving home when a man in a small blue truck stopped her along Virginia 234. He told her there was something wrong with her car & offered her a ride which she took. After getting into the car & driving a short distance, the man attacked her & threatened her with a screwdriver. She jumped out of the passenger side door & broke her leg in the process. Police believe that this is the man witnesses saw standing on the side of the road with Alicia.
Based on witness accounts, police developed a profile & assume that this person likely works in a blue-collar job. Witnesses have said that the man wore a wedding ring & used the name Larry Breeden with at least two of the women. They do not believe that this is his real name. If the suspect is married or living with a woman, their relationship is likely troubled & was especially rocky when Alicia disappeared. Police feel that this person is someone that blends in & looks like your next door neighbor.
On May 7, two months after Alicia went missing, her body was found in a wooded area 15 miles southeast from where she was last seen. A man had seen vultures circling around a clear-cut field in Lignum, Virginia. After investigating, he came across Alicia’s body. Alicia’s cause of death has never been released but it’s likely she was murdered on the day she went missing.
He had a very specific physical description for his victims; small, brunette, white women in their twenties. Police believe he was acting out a sexual fantasy along US Route 29 & Special Agent Larry McCann, a behavioral scientist who worked with the FBI to create a 13-page description of the suspected killer believes that he didn’t mean to kill Alicia & it was a sexual assault fantasy gone bad.
Since Alicia’s disappearance, no female drivers have reported accepting rides from a man fitting this suspect’s description.
Sadie, Alicia’s mom said, “I felt right from the beginning she was gone. My biggest fear during those nine and a half weeks was not finding her body. That was such a big fear.” Her dad, Harley said, “We both had a lot of admiration for her grit and determination and her spunkiness, her brilliance and her beauty.”
The Showalters have suspected Richard Marc Evanitz, the serial killer in the area at the time Alicia was abducted and murdered, Saidie said, “You usually don’t have two serial killers around the same area, around the same time.” On the afternoon of September 9, 1996, Sofia Silva sat on her family’s front stoop, doing her homework & sipping on a can of soda when she disappeared. Her sister was just inside & never heard a thing. Five weeks later, her body was found in a shallow pond in King George County, VA.
Seven months later, on May 1, 1997, 15-year-old Kristin Lisk & her 12-year-old sister, Kati Lisk were abducted and murdered. That afternoon, Ron Lisk, the girl’s dad, called home around the time he expected his two daughters home from school but there was no answer. The two were in separate schools, but arrived home on their buses around 3pm. Their routine was to call their dad and check in when they got home. Ron left work early & made the 20 minute drive home; when he arrived, he found an abandoned backpack in the front yard and a math book that was open nearby. Five days later, road workers found his two daughters, murdered under a bridge 40 miles away, along the South Anna River.
Five years later, on June 24, 2002, 15-year-old Kara Robinson was watering plants in her friend’s front yard when a man pulled up and asked if he could give her some magazines. As he leaned in to hand them to her, he pressed a gun to the side of her neck and said, “if you scream, I’ll shoot you.” He forced Kara into a plastic container in the back seat of his car. Immediately, she began taking note of her surroundings, starting by memorizing the serial number on the container. She said she went straight into survival mode. He eventually pulled over, bound and gagged her & drove a few more minutes to his apartment complex that he shared with his wife. He dragged the plastic container into his apartment. As he sexually assaulted her, Kara said she tried to imagine it was happening to someone else; “I kind of shut off my brain and left my body.” At one point, he forced her back into the storage container so he could call his wife who was vacationing at Disney World with her mom.
That night, Richard drugged Kara with marijuana and Valium, restrained her to the bed with handcuffs and tied one of her legs to the corner of the bed & he went to sleep. When she woke up the next morning & saw Richard sleeping next to her, she knew it was her chance to escape. She slowly and quietly managed to free herself from the restraints without waking him, slid out of the bed, got her clothes back on & went into the living room. An accordion style door was open, blocking her access to the front door. She knew it would make noise when she moved it, so she simultaneously closed that door as she opened the front door & ran for her escape.
Kara flagged down a passing car & two men took her to a police station. She made sure she pointed the apartment out to the men so they could bring the police back. When she arrived at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department & spoke to a deputy, she was infuriated to discover that he didn’t seem to believe her story. Before taking her to the hospital, police drove Kara back to Richard’s apartment. Because each unit in the complex looked the same, she was having a hard time pointing out his exact unit. She knew he lived with a woman with red hair because she noted red hairs in a brush in the bathroom.
The deputies stopped a property manager on a golf course, gave some details of the suspect & he knew exactly who they were talking about. When they got a search warrant for the apartment, Richard was already gone. During the search, they found newspaper articles about Kristin & Kati Lisk. Police spoke to Richard’s sister who told them that he was hiding at a motel less than an hour away but when they arrived, he yet again, disappeared.
His green Trans Am was spotted on a highway in Sarasota, FL & as officers closed in, Richard shot himself in the head. After his death, he was linked to Sofia Silva and Kristin and Kati Lisk’s murders. They found a palm print and fingerprints inside his trunk that matched Kristin; even after five years, the physical evidence remained. Fibers from the fuzzy handcuffs he used to restrain Kara were found on Kristin & Kati Lisk’s bodies & Sofia Silva. Today, Kara is married with two kids and works in law enforcement.
Since 1996, reports indicate several disappearances and murders have been reported involving young women along the US Route 29 Corridor which begins in Pensecola and runs 248 miles through Virginia, ending near Baltimore. These cases may not be linked, but they’re all haunting.
Around this time, there was also a double murder in the Shenandoah National Park that happened in May of 1996 when 24-year-old Julie Williams & 26-year-old Lollie Winans set out on May 19, 1996 to backpack. Rangers began looking for them on May 31st & their bodies were found the next day, June 1, murdered at their campsite near Skyland Drive which is less than an hour away from where Alicia was found. A year later, police arrested Darrel Rice for attempting to abduct a bicyclist near Skyland Drive. Video had shown him entering the park on both May 25 and 26th in 1996 around the time Julie & Lollie were murdered. It’s suspected that he could be linked to Alicia’s murder but he was never charged.
After more than two decades & 10,000 leads, this man has never been caught. Flowers and a cross sit at the sight where Alicia’s car was found. Her parents say that they visit the spot occasionally. Despite the years that have passed, they hope that someone out there knows something. They never want Alicia’s story to be forgotten.
Anyone with any information about the abduction & murder of Alicia Showalter Reynolds is asked to contact state police at 1-800-572-2260 or the Bureau of Criminal Investigation at 888-300-0156 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- NBC12: 20 years later, Alicia Showwalter Reynolds murder remains a mystery
- Unsolved Mysteries Wiki: Alicia Showalter Reynolds
- Inside Nova: State police still seeking leads in 1996 ‘29 Stalker’ murder
- WUSA9: Police still hunting Rt. 29 Stalker after 21 years
- The Washington Post: Fatal Fantasy: Police Profile RTE. 29 Killer
- Pop Culture Crime: The Murders of Julianne Williams & Lollie Winans
- AP News: Sisters found dead outside small Virginia town
- WHSV: Family of Alicia Showalter Reynolds still looking for answers 25 years after her death
- The Washington Post: Slain Girls’ Case Closed
- Blurred Bylines: How Kara Robinson Outsmarted a Serial Killer & Escaped With Her Life
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