Comer charged with first-degree murder

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Timothy Thomas Comer_homocide suspect
Timothy Thomas Comer, 55, was charged with first-degree murder in the June 29 shooting of Gregory Lee Williams on Jollett Road.

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, July 20 — The subject of a two-week manhunt and a homicide investigation in southern Page County has been charged with at least three felonies and received legal counsel. Additional charges could be forthcoming.

Timothy Thomas Comer appeared in Page County General District Court on Thursday morning via video conference. Judge Kenneth L. Alger II appointed attorney Peter K. McDermott as Comer’s public defender. McDermott works with a group called Virginia Defenders in Winchester.

Comer, 55, has been charged with a Class 2 felony for the first-degree murder of Gregory Lee Williams, 69, in the 5600 block of Jollett Road near Page’s southern border with Rockingham County. Following the June 29 shooting, multiple law enforcement agencies searched for Comer in the Jollett Hollow area — a remote and rugged region in which Comer reportedly knew well and never left.

Mixed reports have indicated that the fugitive may have been avoiding law enforcement through the area’s many trails and thickets, or possibly by getting some help from close-by friends and relatives. Shenandoah National Park temporarily shut down some trails in that area during the most intensive portion of the search last week. Some in the area have also mentioned some potential squabbling among the neighbors prior to the shooting.

At about 5:05 p.m. on June 29, the Page County Emergency Communications Center (ECC) received a 911 call in reference to a “man down” in the 5600 block of Jollett Road. The site actually has an Elkton mailing address, but sits within the southern boundary of Page County not far from Naked Creek.

Upon the arrival of first responders from fire, emergency medical services (EMS) and law enforcement, a male identified as Williams was “located on his property deceased from an apparent gunshot wound,” according to a press release issued July 1 by the Page County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation was immediately handled as a homicide.

In addition to murder, Comer has also been charged with an unclassified felony for the use of a firearm in commission of a felony and a Class 6 felony for nonviolent felony possession of a gun less than 10 years since conviction of a felony.

Comer is scheduled to appear before Judge Alger again in Page County General District Court at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31 for a status hearing.

The first 11 days of the 15-day search for Comer utilized resources from the sheriff’s office in Page, Rockingham and Shenandoah counties, as well as the Virginia State Police. The search was joined by U.S. Marshals soon after a fatal fire on the same block of Jollett Road claimed at least two lives on Sunday, July 9. Found the next day among the debris once the site cooled, the remains of two bodies were sent to the Chief Medical Examiner in Manassas. While positive identifications have not been made at this time, the two victims are believed by some to be an elderly woman and her grandson, who lived at the residence.

While Page County Sheriff Chad Cubbage at one point during the investigation indicated that Comer was being sought for “possible arson” as well, no such charge has been placed against the suspect at this time.

On July 11, marshals started offering a $2,500 reward for information on the whereabouts of Comer. Two days later, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives joined the search and added another $7,500 to the reward purse. At 9:37 p.m. on Thursday, July 13 — just a few hours after the reward money increased three-fold to $10,000 — Comer was in custody.

The sheriff’s office received numerous tips from citizens during the search, but seemed to arrive at some sites just after Comer had reportedly left the area. That ended when a tip came in around 6 p.m. last Thursday “that Comer was seen entering a vacant home in the 4000 block of Jollett Road,” according to a report in the Page News and Courier. Although deputies arrived within minutes, verified that Comer was inside the residence and established a perimeter, according to the report, it would be more than three hours before Comer was arrested.

The delay was fueled by Comer’s defiance to multiple commands by law enforcement to exit the residence, the report stated. Gas was used to push him out of the structure. He was eventually taken into custody by the state police tactical team.

Comer also still owes the local court $581 in fines and court costs associated with three misdemeanors for traffic violations stemming from an arrest on Jan. 19, 2021. He was tried by a judge in his absence and was convicted of reckless driving ($250 fine, $121 cost of court), driving under a revoked or suspended license ($100 fine and $30 in court costs), and displaying altered or forged license plates ($50 fine, $30 court costs). All fines and costs owed by Comer are marked as “Past Due” in court records.

At that time, Comer was listed as having a Shenandoah address in those court files. More recent charges — prior to the 15-day manhunt — listed his residence as Harrisonburg. Comer was charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor for driving without a license on May 20, 2023 and another traffic violation for operating an unlicensed motor vehicle occurred on June 20, 2023 — just nine days before the shooting on Jollett Road. Comer is scheduled to return to court at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023 for the June 20 charge.

While the two recent traffic violations list a Harrisonburg address, the recent murder and gun charges do not list an address. Some sources have indicated that Comer may have been living in a small trailer in the Jollett area for a while with no electricity or running water.

Additional charges could be filed and current charges are expected to be elevated to the Page County Circuit Court, where a grand jury will eventually review the evidence and decide if a true bill should be issued to take the case to trial.

Online court files of the charges against Timothy Thomas Comer can be found HERE.



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Manhunt intensifies in Jollett area, $2,500 reward for information on whereabouts of suspect

Sheriff’s Office searching for key suspect in Jollett Road homicide

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