Despite no witnesses and only a small scrap of evidence, Waynesboro police have made two arrests in a fatal hit-and-run. However, investigators and the victim's family are no closer to understanding why.
Betty Marcelle Wheeler, 56, was killed on the night of April 7, while crossing a highway not far from her Waynesboro home. Police say the driver probably would not have faced any charges, had he not made the choice to keep going.
With his mother ripped from his life, Timmy Wheeler has one question for the men accused of leaving her to die. "I would ask them, who's the closest person to you? How would you feel if I just hit them with my car and just took off?," he said.
The hit-and-run killed Betty Wheeler on the night before her 57th birthday. She was struck while walking across Rosser Avenue near her home.
Waynesboro police Sergeant Brian Edwards said, "There were no witnesses. The victim was already dead when we arrived. There was just scraps of a vehicle left behind."
But that scrap - part of the grill from a car - proved critical in the search for suspects. Edwards said the evidence was related to "an anonymous tip that we got from someone, divulging where the vehicle was likely stashed in Rockingham County."
That led to the man police say was the driver, 21-year-old Victor Espinoza, and alleged passenger, 27-year-old Juan Gonzalez-Vasquez.
Timmy said, "I'm deathly afraid that they're going to get bond and run. So I really hope they raise the bond really high to where they can't afford it, or don't give them bond at all."
Waynesboro police say they're still trying to learn the reason for the hit-and-run. They're also looking for at least one more passenger.
"Even though they're not the driver, if there's property damage, injury or death, they are law-bound to report it to the police department," said Edwards.
The victim's son, meanwhile, says he still struggles with the loss and the what-ifs. "She asked me if I wanted to walk with her," Timmy said. "It kind of eats at me, that I could have been with her."
Espinoza and Gonzalez-Vasquez are both charged with felony hit and run. They're being held in the Middle River Regional Jail and have their first court appearance Friday morning.
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