MURDER USA: Highland County
UPDATE: GUILTY PLEA ON SEPT. 25, 2018, SENTENCING SET FOR DEC. 20 2018 – KILLER ALLOWED TO REMAIN FREE ON BAIL pending sentencing
Robert Marshall Cornelius, 15, of McDowell, was indicted in March of 2018 for the murder on Sept. 17, 2017, of his grandmother.
In addition to the murder charge, Cornelius was indicted on two counts of taking a credit card from Knave without consent and use of a firearm. In a plea deal, Cornelius pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and all of the other charges were dropped. The plea deal was arranged in Highland County Circuit Court.
SALEM, Va. – At the direction of the City of Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney, a 14-year-old Highland County male has been charged with first-degree murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and two counts of theft of a credit card for his alleged role in the fatal shooting of a Maryland woman in Highland County.
Officials now disclose that he has been held in a juvenile facility on a charge of unauthorized use of a vehicle since Richmond Airport Police took him into custody at the airport.
The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Salem Field Office continues to investigate the fatal shooting that occurred Sept. 17, 2017. The Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney has been appointed as a special prosecutor for the case. Typically, a special prosecutor is appointed when the commonwealth’s attorney in a county where a crime has occurred has a conflict of interest. When asked for comment on this murder, Highland County’s Commonwealth Attorney Melissa Dowd would not comment.
UPDATE (Sept. 25, 2017) – The Highland County Commonwealth’s Attorney Melissa Dowd was asked to provide information on why a teen suspect found at the Richmond International Airport with the vehicle of the murdered Ruth Ann Knave was under house arrest and if charges are forthcoming against him or anyone in the murder. Ms. Dowd responded by saying she would not have a comment at this time.
From Melissa Dowd’s website:
Melissa Ann Dowd is a lawyer working in Highland County, Virginia. She was elected Commonwealth’s Attorney in 2007 and has been counsel to the Highland County Board of Supervisors since 1994 and counsel to the Town of Monterey since 2002.
Melissa has owned her private law practice for 18 years. She has represented more than 2,500 private clients — individuals, families, minors, court-appointed defendants, corporations, limited liability companies, partnership, and non-profits, among others, since 1990. Her work for private clients covers everything from real estate and equine law to business, contracts, wills, negotiations, workouts, and litigation.
Monterey, Va. – A Tall Timbers woman is dead and a teenage boy was caught with her car at the Richmond Airport following her slaying on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, reports the Virginia State Police.
The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Salem Field Office is investigating a fatal shooting in Highland County that occurred Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
Shortly before 6 p.m., Sunday, the Highland County Sheriff’s Office responded to a residence in the 5200 block of Doe Hill Road in the McDowell community to conduct a welfare check. Inside the residence, the deputies located a deceased adult female, Ruth Ann (Cornelius) Knave, 76, of Tall Timbers, Md.
Knave’s 2009 Subaru Forester was missing from the residence.
Further investigation led Virginia State Police to the Richmond International Airport (RIC) in Richmond, Va., where the Subaru was located in the parking lot. A male juvenile was taken into custody by RIC Police.
One report reveals that the boy has not been charged as of yet but has been ordered to be held under house arrest.
House arrest is an extremely rare, perhaps unheard of, a result of a person charged with murder and indicates the possibility of a suspect that may be a family member.
The Virginia State Police report that Knave’s remains were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke for examination and autopsy.
Obituary reports visitation set for Sept. 26, 2017, at Brinsfield Funeral Home in Leonardtown, Md., and services the next day at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Valley Lee, Md.