Loudoun County

Man Convicted of Brother-in-Law's Murder 30 Years Later

Nearly 30 years after the body of a 29-year-old man was found in a shallow grave in Loudoun County, his brother-in-law has been convicted in his death. 

Henry "Ricky" Ryan was last seen Sept. 30, 1988, leaving a roadside pull-off along the Shenandoah River in West Virginia. The area was popular with locals; some used it as a place to drink and use drugs, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office.

He was going on a beer run with his brother-in-law Timothy Warnick and another friend. 

Ryan was never seen again. 

Six months later, his body was found in a shallow grave off Route 9 in Loudoun County.

On Thursday, a jury found Warnick, now 59 years old, guilty of first-degree murder and robbery, the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office says.

Warnick was arrested in 2016 after interviews with family members, friends and witnesses led cold case detectives to him. 

The night Ryan disappeared, he was partying with a group of people along the banks of the river. He left the party with Warnick and another friend to get beer. The friend later told authorities that he was threatened by Warnick not to tell anyone about what happened. 

According to Ryan Perry, the assistant Commonwealth's attorney, Ryan had money and drugs on him when he left the party, but the only thing investigators found on his body months later was a pill bottle with Warnick's name on it.

At the time, detectives didn't have enough evidence to indict.

Over the years, Warnick made admissions to several people, including his son, that he killed Ryan, Perry said. 

Warnick was indicted in June 2016. 

The jury recommended he be sentenced to life plus five years. A judge will decide his fate in the upcoming weeks. 

Warnick is being held at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center.

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