VA VA - David Metzler, 19, & Heidi Childs, 18, fatally shot, Montgomery County, 26 Aug 2009

Discussion in 'Cold Cases' started by lizzybeth, Aug 28, 2009.

  1. TedMac

    TedMac Well-Known Member

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    I agree with everything you mentioned. I feel it almost had to be a killer "hunting" for victims. A person doesn't carry a rifle to a place like that for no reason. It could have been someone with a gun walking around wanting to shoot or target practice and decided to shoot two people. That is uncommon, but has happened before. I recall a case in the Midwest a few years back where a guy shot two children shortly after purchasing a new gun and admitted later that he wanted to see "what the gun would do to a human". The case remained unsolved for several years until he used the same gun to kill his girlfriend.

    I believe he is someone who is familiar with the area and knew the place was a lovers lane or sometimes a hangout for younger people. Some have speculated that this may have been a "revenge killing" against Heidi as her father was a VA State Trooper. But, I dismiss that idea since he was a helicopter pilot and his interaction with the public would have been minimal. Plus, other than her friends, who would have known she was the daughter of a LE officer? Also, their outing together was not planned well in advance and was pretty much a spur of the moment thing.

    LE has never stated if Heidi was sexually assaulted or not. Could this have been the motive? LE has stated that they have DNA-could that be the source. Certainly, there are other ways to capture DNA such as touching of the clothes, their car or maybe shell casings. I remember being in the area a couple of days after this as I drove my son to Radford University for his freshman year of college. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch and I read about the case in the local paper. The investigators described the crime scene as "brutal". Could a sexual assault have been what they were referencing?
     
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  2. MissLaura

    MissLaura On Time Out

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  3. Kell1

    Kell1 Verified law enforcement

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    Actually i'm leaning more toward an impulsive act, possibly with a precipitating event prior, but both are possible given what we have been by LE

    I'll explain why

    Lets start with the shooting itself.

    Though they were shot with a popular hunting caliber , this was not like a sniper style shooting from concealment they were shot , according to police, at point blank range , David found still sitting at the wheel of the vehicle, Heidi on the ground near the passenger side

    A hunting rifle, unless modified isn't a really concealable firearm, so his approach had to be sudden, or he somehow otherwise approached stalked them till he was, literally on top of them to begin shooting.

    The choice of weapon itself is odd, most shootings in the US are committed with handguns, the most popular caliber by far used in shootings, is .9mm, then .45 followed by.40 S&W from there the most popular calibers used in shootings, tend to be assault rifle caliber rounds , 5.56 (AR15) 7.62 x 39(AK47/SKS) , and in some cases, .308. Shotguns are also in there but im focusing on rifles.

    My point is you dont see many other 30 Caliber rounds used in murders other than 7.62, and .308.

    I feel he didnt go out and buy a .30-30 to hunt humans , this was either something stolen, or something he owns (owned), but IMO it was most likely something he had for reasons other than murder.

    But Ill add, In many rural areas however hunting rifles are also used as a means of home defense.

    Because LE is reightfully withhlding info , we have to approach it from what we know and base an analysis off there

    First we need to clear the victims, was there anyone who wanted to do either one of them harm?, you have to turn over their background and see if theres any hints, of something off.

    Jealousy, anger, revenge could all be motivating factors, was someone infatuated with Heidi or David?, could this be jealosy?, who knew where they were that day?, all have to be considered , always start close and work out .

    Then consider whats outside the scope of the victims background.

    It appears David is killed outright, how many times he (or Heidi) was shot is being kept by LE to rule out false info, but that gives us a 2 way go at what were dealing with, the Male, the most likely threat is killed first.

    That could be the luck of the draw, that he was just closer to David than Heidi at the outset of the shootings, however its seen A LOT in multiple homicides with a sexual component , in which the killer needs time to assault the desired , in this case female victim, so one is eliminated , usually the biggest threat immediately.

    Next we have items taken from the scene, and from what LE states they all belong to Heidi, thats pretty substantial, with no robbery indicated, that to a trained investigator tells us he wants to remember HER, not THEM.

    Heidi was killed second, shes outside the vehicle on the ground , details are scarce in her killing, but reportedly theres DNA recovered, (nature unspecified) but its her belongings , not Davids, that are taken from the scene .

    Again if they were fired upon from a distance, or if there was no indication of any type of sexual component to the crime, or there were no trophies taken from the scene I say youre dealing with someone perhaps with some type of psychological illness (though an argument could be made for such in almost any murder)

    The similar murders of a couple in Jenner California in 2004 , are an example of this , where they were just killed in their tent , by a mentally disturbed individual "just because"

    Id be very interested in the nature of the DNA and where it was found , was it blood, saliva, semen, where was it recovered etc.. that can also tell you volumes about the offender .

    So what was it ? Random killing? Jealous stalker,? Psychotic killer?, Serial killer ?

    With what little info we have,we cant be sure, but I can tell you that taking souvenirs from any scene , tells you enough about a certain offender to know this individual enjoyed it wants to relive it , eventually that excitement fades, and if the planets align again he could without any hesitation re-offend

    Just remember theres always a story , we have to find the verses to complete the book.
     
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  4. LR1

    LR1 Well-Known Member

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    It takes quite a press with the thumb to insert cartridges in my model 94. Especially the last few. The primer of the cartridge's that he probably left on the ground could be where they're getting the DNA.

    The purse contained a cell phone, a digital camera, credit card and likely a little cash. That gun can sound like a cannon in the right environment so he might've thought it prudent to leave the scene rather than spend time pilfering through Davids clothing looking for a wallet. Have they mentioned his wallet? People have been killed and robbed for less.
     
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  5. JnRyan

    JnRyan Well-Known Member

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    This is going to be a long one - not my usual.

    I’ve been to the Blacksburg, Christiansburg and surrounding area many times in the past, but I had never been to the Caldwell Fields site before. This past weekend I had reason to be in the area and in spite of having seen numerous photos and seeing it on Google Maps I set out to if I can learn anything further.

    My first stop was not long after turning off of Hwy 460 onto Rt. 621 (Craig’s Creek Rd) at the Blacksburg Shooting Range the entrance of which is just out of sight of the 621 turnoff. I don’t why, but I decided to pay a visit. The entrance is marked by a US Forest Service sign so it apparently is run by them, not something I expected or maybe I forgot. The range is about 400-500 yards off 621 on single lane paved path. In fact, someone was coming down the road just after I entered and I had to back down the road to let them out. Off to the left just before ranges is a single bathroom facility and then the first range off to the left is a shotgun/archery range. One person was there finishing up shooting. I left there and parked at the main parking area for the main range – about 6-8 parking spots. Up the short, steep incline to the range is about 3 handicapped parking spots. There looked to be about 8-10 lanes under a cover. They had distances from pistol to rifle shooting but everyone was shooting rifles. One looked to be shooting a .308 Winchester or .30-06 Springfield. One guy I spoke with was shooting a vintage British Enfield in .303 British. All larger cartridges than the .30-30. (I’ll come back to that.) I could hear the rounds being fired at the turnoff with the windows up, engine running and A/C running in the car. And there were shots going off about every 30 seconds to one minute.

    After leaving I went further down 621 and pulled off a half mile from the turnoff to the shooting range. I turned the engine off and got out. There didn’t appear to be any wind and a check of the Blacksburg area on Weather.com indicated zero wind. I knew from hunting that the wind and its direction can affect how far you can hear a gun shot. I was there between 5 and 10 minutes and couldn’t hear a single shot from the range and the weapons I had seen at the range were larger than a .30-30. A half mile away and I couldn’t hear them for the distance, trees and hills. And I will come back to this about the Caldwell Fields site.

    As I continued along 621, I saw homes about every 1/3 to ½ mile and they appeared to be permanent or primary residences based on the mailboxes out on the road. I passed Camp Tuck-A-Way – a nice looking camp with 3-4 buildings/cabins and a swimming pool. UNTIL I was about 2 miles from Caldwell fields and then the residences not only ceased, but I had dense forest on both sides except for what appeared to be a cluster of 3 (3 mailboxes) about a mile from Caldwell Fields on the left. No other residences after that from what I could see.

    Caldwell Fields. The parking area is not large and not as far from the road as I thought. Only about 30 yards from the road. A split rail fence or posts about 2- 3 feet high separates the field from the parking area and in the corner are a few small flower arrangements with what looks like a ceramic or plastic Teddy Bear on the ground (for Heidi and David?). The poster board on the other side gives the background on Caldwell Fields along with a small poster on the murders. (Named for Addison Fields, the first enrollee at Virginia Tech.) I don’t where I got the idea that David Metzler was going to build a fire and they would play their guitars around it. There is no place to build a fire. In fact, it is for day use only. Now, separated by a very small, but VERY dense patch of woods are the Addison and George campgrounds with fire pits, but no real parking to speak of. (Could they have parked at the day use fields and walked to Addison?) All of the scenes show the day use site and not Addison or George. There is a dirt road directly across from the Caldwell Fields, but there is no mailbox and it appears to just go off into the woods. (A US Forest Service map, I found later lists this road as Lee 630)

    I briefly left Caldwell Fields drove farther down 621. I saw posted signs and even a couple of trailers and one pre-fab shelter (like a larger guard shack) down the road. But none of these had mailboxes (vacation sites? hunting camps?). I was a mile down 621 before I saw what looked like a primary residence.

    I drove back to Caldwell Fields. The place where Heidi and David parked is not that far from the road. If the killer drove up on them, he could have been right on top of them in no time at all. Of course, he could have parked at Addison or George and walked the short distance over, but I’m inclined to believe he drove in. If I couldn’t hear the medium caliber shots a half mile from the range standing in the open on a still day I doubt if either of the residences a mile away could have heard the shots inside a house. (But the man who found them the next morning was walking his dog. I wonder if he walked all that way over there?) The vegetation on the other side of the fence – i.e., out in the field – was almost up to my waste and there are no trees for a couple of hundred yards. If Heidi had tried to exit the car tried to wade through those tall weeds she wouldn’t have made it far. She was trapped.

    I only saw 4 vehicles in the oncoming lane in the 9 miles driving out, 2 others parked off the road just inside the trees in the last 2 miles and then one that passed by while I was at Caldwell Fields the first time. This was early afternoon on a weekend.

    I tried to get photos, but I was having difficulty with a new phone (operator error) and didn't get any.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2021
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  6. JnRyan

    JnRyan Well-Known Member

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    Its not a bad recap, but not entirely accurate some errors I noted or questions I have:

    Dog walker drove to cell coverage? Did he walk or drive there? Nearest full time resident is a mile away in both directions. Visiting their camp in middle of the week as there appeared to be a few just to the east? I've never hear much detail on this person.

    Gravel road? To be honest, I've heard that in more than one place. But when I was there just recently the road was paved all the way out to the fields and over a mile beyond. That road appears to have been there for quite some time, too.

    Shooting range and wilderness camp nearby? OK, the shooting range is almost 9 miles away so it is not likely they would have heard anything. ALTHOUGH, I get that LE would want to find out who was there that day. Wilderness camp? That is a few miles away from the Caldwell Fields and almost halfway. With a swimming pool and cabins I hardly call it a wilderness camp. They were likely too far to hear the shots, too. But again, I get LE would check it out as you don’t know what anyone there would have seen or heard.

    Homes several miles away? No, I found a residence a mile to the east and possibly 3 about a mile to the west. Still too far away to likely hear shots from what I found though. And we don't who might have been in the temporary residences less than a mile to the east.

    Sung-He-Cho bought his gun online? That is misleading. Yes, you can ORDER a gun online, but if you aren’t a licensed gun dealer – and Cho wasn’t – the gun has to be shipped to a gun dealer where you will THEN buy the gun. Just like at a gun store.

    Detectives were looking for a silver or gray minivan sometime after the killings? Yes, partially true, but misleading. LE was looking for that vehicle about 7 others that were seen but not found.

    All that said, though, I'm glad someone else is finally giving the case some exposure. To date, I can only think of "Vile Virginia" and "Mind over Murder" as podcasts that have previously covered the case. I know of no reputable YouTuber that has covered the case.
     
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  7. JnRyan

    JnRyan Well-Known Member

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  8. JohnTate90210

    JohnTate90210 Well-Known Member

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    I went there several years ago and am certain the road did turn to gravel before reaching Caldwell Fields. I visited again last Friday (September 24, 2021) and it's now paved. My odometer showed it's about 9 miles from Route 460 to Caldwell Fields, if I remember correctly. We did pass more traffic than I expected. And it seemed there were more houses along the road than I recall from a few years ago.

    Of some interest, Nicole Lovell was also murdered along this same road. Supposedly Henry Lee Lucas lived on this road as a child. A couple of killers (VT mass murderer for one) practiced at the gun range at the beginning of the road. Weird history for such a rural road.

    I took quite a few photos and may post some shortly.
     
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  9. JohnTate90210

    JohnTate90210 Well-Known Member

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    Here's a photo from an early news story. I believe you can tell it was a gravel road at the time.

    caldwell-5.jpg

    I may be wrong but I believe that is the victims' car just behind the sign. David had a 1992 dark blue Toyota Camry. Here's a photo of a 1992 Camry for comparison:

    1992 toryota camry.jpg


    If so, it's very close to the road and backed into a parking spot. David was shot through the driver's side window, so it would have come from somebody in the parking lot.

    For a different angle, here's my car pulled in somewhat close to the same spot:

    caldwell-21-01.jpg

    There's an area just before you get to Caldwell Fields that does have a large area for fires. I don't know if it was the same back then. There's basically no parking there. I think one would park at the Caldwell Fields lot and take a short walk down the road to the other location. That could be why David parked close to the road rather than deeper in the lot where there's a nice view.

    Here's a photo taken from about the same spot but looking into the parking lot. Note at the left corner of the fence is an apparently memorial to Heidi and David:

    caldwell-21-02.jpg

    There's a website where somebody went with a metal detector and found some bullet shells near the picnic table. But I'll also note that when we were there last week, there was a shotgun shell sitting on the nearby information sign:

    caldwell-21-03.jpg

    The shell is at the lower left corner of the glass. I'm sure it's totally unrelated to the crime but a bit odd to see. At the top right is a flyer about the murders. Closer to the center of the glass is an odd hole. I doubt it's a bullet hole but rather looks like it's been melted.
     
  10. JohnTate90210

    JohnTate90210 Well-Known Member

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    Here's a view from deep in the parking lot looking toward the road. The road runs left to right. Note there's also a gravel road straight across from the parking lot entrance. Google maps shows it goes way back on the mountain but dead ends.

    caldwell-21-04.jpg

    Here's the view as you drive from 460 down Craigs Creek Road. So somewhat the view David and Heidi had as they approached the parking lot. Not exact view, obviously but it shows what they could have seen as they approached:

    caldwell-21-05.jpg

    Here's the view from the previously mentioned mountain road:

    caldwell-21-06.jpg
     
  11. JohnTate90210

    JohnTate90210 Well-Known Member

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    Don't let this one mislead you. It was shot in panorama mode. When viewed as a whole, it appears Craigs Creek Road has a curve. That's just distortion/illusion.

    caldwell-21-07.jpg
     
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  12. JohnTate90210

    JohnTate90210 Well-Known Member

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    This one was taken from near the information sign:

    caldwell-21-08.jpg

    And here's a panorama from the same spot. There's a bit of distortion, of course. You can't just stand there and see this much without turning your head:

    caldwell-21-09.jpg
     
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  13. JohnTate90210

    JohnTate90210 Well-Known Member

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    Here's a set of three taken from near the lot's entrance. I think I posted the middle of the three previously but here they are as a set:

    caldwell-21-10.JPG caldwell-21-11.JPG caldwell-21-12.JPG
     
  14. JohnTate90210

    JohnTate90210 Well-Known Member

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    Here's a google satellite view of the area. I've marked (with a yellow arrow) where I think the car was parked (see post from a few messages ago). Note to the west (left) are a couple more fields and each has a fire pit. I've marked the fire pits with red arrows. I don't know if the pits existed at the time or not.

    caldwell-21-13.jpg

    Here's the field that's closest to the middle of the satellite photo ("Milton"). It's the field closest to the parking lot. This is the entrance to that field:

    caldwell-21-14.jpg

    Here's the same field but this one shows its fire pit (marked with red arrow):

    caldwell-21-15.jpg

    Here's the entrance to the field that to the far west ("George", left side of satellite photo). You can see the fire pit marked with a red arrow:

    caldwell-21-16.jpg

    And here's another view of the same area. Just a different angle. Again that fire pit is marked with a red arrow:

    caldwell-21-17.jpg

    Note there's really not actual parking by the road at either entrance though one could. In the photo of the first field (Milton), you can see the gate has been opened and there are cars parked on down in the grassy area. There's also a gate at the other field (George) which I assume could be opened. But we also know that the victims were parked at the main lot (Addison) just up the road. Could it be somebody was parked at these other field entrances? Did Heidi and David actually get to have their fire? Or had they just arrived when events took place?
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
  15. JohnTate90210

    JohnTate90210 Well-Known Member

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    Here's a really bad photo of the map posted at the Caldwell Fields parking lot. I'll include the Google satellite image again for comparison:

    caldwell-21-18.jpg caldwell-21-13.jpg

    As viewed in the map and satellite photo, the western (left) field is George. The middle is Milton. The right (parking area) is Addison.
     
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  16. JohnTate90210

    JohnTate90210 Well-Known Member

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    This photo was taken near the entrance to the parking lot. It's looking west on Craigs Creek Road. The victims would have driven from the direction. If you walked down this road, you'd first get to Milton Field and then George Field. If you went nine miles, you'd be at Route 460.

    caldwell-21-19.jpg
     
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  17. JohnTate90210

    JohnTate90210 Well-Known Member

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    Well, I hope I didn't overdo it with photos! I have more including several panorama shots. I reduced resolution a bit so Websleuths would accept them (there's a size limit).

    I'll post this last one (unless there are requests for any I might have):

    caldwell-21-20.jpg
     
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  18. JnRyan

    JnRyan Well-Known Member

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    In all my trips to the area over the last 20+ years I never went to Caldwell Fields. (In fact, I really wasn't aware of it till the murders.) I had heard that the road in the vicinity of the Caldwell Fields was gravel so I was surprised when I was there last month that it was paved and also at least a mile to a mile and a half beyond it. I believe 9 miles is what I came up with as well. I saw very few cars on the way there or back, but it was about noon to about 1:00 PM on a Sunday so I don't know if that factors in. But in the 20+ mile round trip (I also went about a mile beyond) I didn't see a dozen vehicles.
     
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  19. JnRyan

    JnRyan Well-Known Member

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    I've heard that they were going to build a fire and play guitar(s). I saw a fire pit in adjacent field, but not at Caldwell Fields when I was there. In your third photo there is an slightly elevated area surrounded by posts. The area is filled with weeds now. From your past visits to the area could that have been a fire pit?

    I don't know where the part about building a fire came about. I have always doubted I would have built one in August. When I was in the area last month it got down into the mid-60's at night but it was still in the 70's at 8-9 PM.
     
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  20. JohnTate90210

    JohnTate90210 Well-Known Member

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    This area? Maybe so. I took photos several years ago, I'll have to check them.

    caldwell-21-21.jpg

    caldwell-21-21b.jpg

    caldwell-21-22.jpg
     
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