Behind the Badge: Killer still sought in Sheri Warner murder

As we reach the seven-year anniversary of a brutal crime that shocked our community, the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office and the Culpeper County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office continue to seek the public’s assistance with our investigation into the murder of Sheryl Warner. Sheryl was a resident of the Reva area of Culpeper County.

We remain absolutely committed to solving this crime. Our pursuit of new leads and the re-examination of existing evidence with the latest technology have led to the recent discovery of a key piece of scientific evidence that could potentially identify a person at the crime scene on the night of the murder.

Conversely, this same evidence could also enable us to exclude innocent parties from the suspect pool. This has been a tremendous breakthrough for us.

The facts of this case were that on Sunday evening, Dec. 18, 2005, around 6:30 p.m., 37 year-old Sheryl “Sherri” Warner was alone in her home located at 8445 James Monroe Highway (Route 29 South in Culpeper County, about three miles before the Madison County line). She was on the telephone with her father, John Embrey, discussing the Washington Redskins’ recent win against the Dallas Cowboys.

This phone call was interrupted when a male knocked on her front door, reported that his car had broken down, and asked to use her phone to call for assistance. His conversation suggested he was not alone. Sheryl Warner hung up the phone and was never heard from again.

Alerted by Sherri’s family, responding fire and law enforcement personnel discovered her home set on fire and her bound, hanging and lifeless body in the basement. The cause of her death was a gunshot wound to her head. Her murder robbed her family of a beloved daughter and sister. Most tragic was that Sherri’s three children – aged 8, 10 and 13, lost their mother that night ―a week before Christmas.

Some eyewitnesses reported a suspicious vehicle in the vicinity of Sherri’s home that night. It may be the case that someone encountered the killer around the time of the crime and thought their behavior odd or frightening. Someone may have heard what was considered an unusual conversation about the murder. We are asking anyone with any information about the events of that night ―even if you think it has already been reported ―to contact us.

The person who murdered Sherri brought a lot of violence to the crime scene and their behavior suggests a degree of criminal versatility. They were able to con their way into her home, spend time there, brutally kill her and then escape. It is likely that this person was no stranger to violence and criminality, traits that would be reflected in their arrest history or behavior with others in their life. The killer possesses an ability to move to explosive violence and then recover. Those close to the killer, especially females, may have been the victims of violent outbursts.

It is presumed that the killer was not alone that night and we want to speak to this second person.

We are offering this other person the chance to come clean; remove this burden and fear from your conscience and mind, remove yourself from harm’s way and help us end the killer’s victimization of others. We understand you may be afraid of the killer; we can protect you. We understand you may fear your involvement that night could expose you to punishment; your coming forward will go a long way in positively determining your future life. No one should live in fear or danger from this killer. No children should ever have to lose their mother at this killer’s hands again.

If anyone has any information that might be related to this crime please contact us via any of the following means: via telephone at 540-727-7523 or 540-727-3441; via e-mail at or; or at Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office, 110 W. Cameron St., Culpeper Va. 22701.

Regardless of how insignificant you think your information might be ―or even if you think we already are aware of the information ―please let us assess the relevance of your tip.
There is a reward for information leading to the arrest of Sherri’s killer.

Scott Jenkins is sheriff of Culpeper County