Richmond Police: woman found dead after man kills self

Published: Feb. 4, 2016 at 3:59 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 4, 2016 at 10:18 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond Police are in the middle of an investigation involving a suicide and a homicide that they say are connected.

It's a case that criss-crossed the city, starting with a dead man in Shockoe Slip and ending with his girlfriend found shot to death in her Church Hill apartment.

Velda Garner was found Wednesday night at the Church Hill House in the 2400 of Burton Street after police did a wellness check and found her dead. Investigators say she was shot to death by Richard Burton, who killed himself and was found dead Wednesday morning on Cary Street.

Elizabeth Taylor is devastated to learn her friend and neighbor Velda Garner is gone.

"It was a sad day," said Taylor. "It was just a sad day. I'm heartbroken. It really broke me."

Taylor says Garner struggled with substance abuse and had just been accepted at an out-of-state rehab facility.

"She had just gotten the suitcase to pack her clothes to get on the bus. Too little, too late."

Now, instead of a new start, family and friends will be saying their final goodbyes after Garner was shot to death in her apartment.

Frank West lives in the apartment next door. He learned of the crime after detectives knocked on his door.

"Asked if I heard anything.. and I didn't hear anything," said West. "Later on, a couple more detectives came and asked me if they could look at my wall."

But, there was no evidence there.

Police say Richard Burton killed his girlfriend, before turning the gun on himself in Shockoe Slip. He was discovered by employees at Commonwealth Architect as they made their way to work.

"When I got here, that's when I discovered the police tape all around," said David Abbott.

While no motive has been released in this case, we dug a little deeper into Burton's past. Convicted of rape in 1986, he was on the VA sex offender registry. He was also convicted of several crimes in both Richmond district and circuit court.

Now, this incident is raising concerns from Garner neighbors, who wonder just how safe this building is.

"It's supposed to be," said Taylor, when asked if the building is secure. "But again, someone got in there with a weapon, didn't they?"

The management company that runs Church Hill House has not yet responded for comment when asked if there was any plans to change or upgrade security.

If you have any information on this case that can help police, call Crime Stoppers at 780-1000.

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