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Press Release

Youngest Member of Murderous Family Conspiracy Sentenced

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. – A Richmond man was sentenced today to 52 years in prison for his role in multiple carjackings, including one that resulted in a death.

According to court documents, Philip Friend, 36, was the youngest member of an entire family (a mother and her three sons; plus a cousin and some associates), who created a plan to steal a semi-trailer truck from an interstate trucker. They planned to travel to McAllen, Texas, where they would pick up a load of marijuana to distribute on the East Coast. In March 1999, the group attempted to hijack the truck of their first victim, Soren Cornforth, who they found sleeping in his truck as he waited to deliver potatoes from Idaho to a produce company in Richmond. When Cornforth strongly resisted, the Friends shot and killed him without taking his truck. About six weeks later, the Friends hijacked another independent trucker, John Cummings, stealing his rig. Philip Friend beat Cummings so viciously that he was maimed and lost his ability to work as a trucker. Two weeks later, in April 1999, the Friend clan carjacked their third victim, an independent trucker named Sam Lam, murdering him and taking his rig to Texas in search of marijuana. 

Friend, who was just shy of 16 years old during this killing spree, originally pleaded guilty in 2000. Federal sentencing guidelines called for a mandatory life sentence, which he received. Years later, Friend’s case was sent back to the district court for resentencing after the Supreme Court held that a mandatory life sentence for a juvenile offender was unconstitutional.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and David W. Archey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian R. Hood prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:99-cr-201.


Joshua Stueve
Director of Public Affairs

Updated January 30, 2020

Violent Crime