Citizen tips have helped Waynesboro police make two arrests in an accident that killed a pedestrian.
The hit-and-run on April 7 killed Betty Marcelle Wheeler, as she walked along Rosser Avenue. The impact of the crash broke off a section of the vehicle - later found to be a 2000 Ford pickup.
An anonymous tip led the investigation to Rockingham County.
Wednesday night police announced the arrests of the driver, 21-year-old Victor Espinoza, and a passenger, 27-year-old Juan Gonzalez-Vasquez. Both are being held without bond.
Waynesboro Police Department Press Release Update
On 04/16/12, Detectives from the Waynesboro Police Department received an anonymous tip pertaining to the fatal hit and run traffic crash that occurred on 04/07/12. Based on the anonymous tip and other information developed during the course of the investigation, Waynesboro Detectives were able to determine that the suspect vehicle was a 2000 Ford F-150 pickup truck.
On 04/17/12 Waynesboro Detectives contacted the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office and requested assistance with pursuing additional leads in Rockingham County. A 2000 Ford F-150 matching the description provided by the anonymous tipster was subsequently located in the 2200 block of Tan Bark Drive in Rockingham County. Probable cause was presented to the Magistrate, and a search warrant was obtained for the vehicle. The vehicle was then seized, transported back to Waynesboro, and processed for additional evidence.
Waynesboro Detectives, assisted by the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office, continued to follow up on additional leads late into the evening on 04/17/12 related to the occupants of the hit and run vehicle. As a result of the investigation, a warrant was obtained and served on 27 year old Juan M. Gonzalez-Vasquez of Harrisonburg for being a passenger of the vehicle and failing to report an accident which resulted in a person being killed or injured. This offense is a Class 6 Felony under VA. Code Section 46.2-895.
On 04/18/12 Detectives returned to Rockingham County to follow up on additional leads. As a result of their investigation, 21 year old Victor A. Espinoza of Harrisonburg was charged for being the driver of the vehicle and failing to report an accident involving injury or death. This offense is a Class 5 Felony under VA. Code Section 46.2-894.
Juan M. Gonzalez-Vasquez is being held without bond at the Middle River Regional Jail.
Victor A. Espinoza is being held without bond at the Rockingham Regional Jail.
This investigation is continuing and additional charges may be forthcoming.
The Waynesboro Police Department would like to extend its sincere thanks to the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office, the Augusta County Sheriff's Office, the Virginia State Police, and the numerous "concerned citizens" who provided crucial information to further this investigation.
Any additional questions should be directed to Captain Kelly Walker at 540-942-6537.
Anyone with additional information about this incident is asked to contact the Waynesboro Police Department at 540-942-6675 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-322-2017.
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