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December 16, 2014

Greenhalgh boyfriend ID’d as “suspect” in 2012 murder

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Firefighters discovered Sarah Greenhalgh’s body after extinguishing a blaze in this rented house — since razed — the morning of July 9, 2012.
From the beginning in July 2012, the investigation has focused on John Sheldon Kearns. But, investigators last week for the first time publicly called him “a suspect” in Sarah Greenhalgh’s murder.
Sarah L. Greenhalgh died of a gunshot wound to the neck.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
A Warrenton defense attorney two years ago called his client “a suspect” in the July 2012 murder of a newspaper reporter near Upperville.

For the first time, Fauquier sheriff’s investigators last week confirmed that characterization of Gainesville resident John Sheldon Kearns, 51.

Officers previously had identified Mr. Kearns as a “person of interest” in the fatal shooting of Sarah Libbey Greenhalgh, 48.

Firemen discovered Ms. Greenhalgh’s body after extinguishing a blaze at her rented home just east of Upperville on July 9, 2012.

Using a new search warrant, investigators on the morning of Monday, Dec. 8, again fingerprinted Mr. Kearns.

The sheriff’s office on July 25, 2012, took his fingerprints for the first time and sent them to a state crime lab.

“As a result of this submission, the Virginia Department of Forensic Science requested additional known fingerprints . . . specifically the tip areas of his fingers, to be used to compare with fingerprints developed from items of evidence at the crime scene, which contain the tip areas not previously captured for identification or exclusion purpose,” Detective David E. Hamblin wrote in an affidavit for the warrant.

Two years ago, Mr. Kearns “was a person of interest in the investigation. Presently, John Sheldon Kearns is a suspect in the murder,” Detective Hamblin wrote. “John Sheldon Kearns was Sarah Greenhalgh’s boyfriend in July 2012 and was engaged in a heated argument with Sarah just hours before the murder.”

Authorities have placed no charges in the murder.

Mark Williams, whose law firm represents Mr. Kearns, was traveling Tuesday morning and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Ms. Greenhalgh worked as a reporter, covering Frederick County, for The Winchester Star. She also had worked for newspapers in Fauquier and as a freelance writer and photographer for equine publications in the region.

Investigators searched Mr. Kearns’ apartment later the day of the fire at Ms. Greenhalgh’s house.

“Yes, we have a suspect,” Fauquier sheriff’s Lt. James Hartman said in August 2013, but he would not identify that person.
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