State police seek new information in 1995 slaying of store owner

Shopkeeper's murder remains unsolved

ARVONIA, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia State Police are seeking information in the 1995 slaying of a well-known store own in Buckingham County.

Saturday, Oct. 19 marks 24 years since Joan Herndon was shot and killed during an armed robbery at Arvonia Produce Market, a small roadside convenience store that she ran with her husband, Norman, for 15 years.

“In unsolved cases this old, sometimes it’s not about making the arrest, although that is the number one goal - it’s about bringing some kind of closure to the family," said Senior Special Agent Clay Overholt.

She was the only person at the store, located at the corner of North James Madison Highway and Abe White Lane in Arvonia, around 11:45 a.m. that Thursday.

When deputies got to the scene, they found Joan Herndon dead on the floor just inside the front door and a significant amount of cash taken from the register.

“Herndon, originally from London, England, called Buckingham County home after meeting Norman in England during his time serving in World War II. The two returned stateside where they started a family, raising three children in and around Arvonia. Norman, an electrician by trade, was known for stocking the market with fresh produce from his multi-acre garden,” police said in a release.

State police continue to follow leads and have conducted interviews in connection to the murder.

“The 1995 murder shook the community, still reeling from a violent bank robbery two weeks prior just north in Fork Union,” said Capt. David O. Cooper II, Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office commander. “Even after all these years, we are certain there are folks in the community who know something about this tragic and senseless homicide and we encourage them to please come forward and share with us what you know. Even the smallest, tidbit of information is important to this unsolved case. It’s been 24 years and it’s time to bring justice to Mrs. Herndon and her surviving family members.”

Special Agent Michael Heath, along with Overholt, went back to the scene Friday, as they continue to ask the community to break their silence.

“I think it’s important for us to come out here and gain perspective and remember why we do this everyday," explained Heath. “It’s been far too long this case has not reached a conclusion.”

VSP says they will be re-interviewing people they have spoken to in the past. New investigators on the case hope to look at it with a fresh perspective.

Herndon has two living children, who have continued to wait for justice.

“Especially after you start speaking to family members and you see the hurt even 24 years later in their eyes - that not only was their mother killed, but the person responsible for the death of their mother has not been brought to justice. When you make that connection, that’s when it becomes personal for investigators," said Heath.

Anyone with information is asked to call Senior Special Agent Clay Overholt at 434-352-3443 or Special Agent Michael Heath at 434-352-3452. Police can also be contacted via email at questions@vsp.virginia.gov.

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