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Press Release

Two Drug Traffickers Arrested on Federal Charges for Premeditated Robbery Scheme Ending in Murder and Arson

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia
Defendant Sought to Dispose of Evidence by Setting Victim’s Body Aflame

ROANOKE, Va. – A federal grand jury in Roanoke has charged a pair of Central Virginia men with multiple federal crimes related to a 2023 drug robbery and murder where one defendant sought to dispose of the victim’s body by setting it aflame.

In an indictment returned April 11, 2024, the grand jury alleges that Joseph Richard Walker, a.k.a. “Joe,” 30, of Roanoke, and Garrett Isaac Williams, a.k.a. “Gary,” “Taz,” and “Tez,” 21, of Lynchburg, conspired to traffic marijuana; committed robbery; and conspired to commit robbery. Additionally, the indictment alleges Walker discharged a firearm to further the drug trafficking and robbery; possessed firearms as a prohibited person; and committed arson.

“There is no higher priority for my Office than keeping our communities safe by prosecuting violent crime,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today. “The federal charges brought in this case show the determination of the United States Attorney’s Office —  and our local, state, and federal partners — to hold those who commit these acts accountable.”

“Our dedication to protecting the public from violent offenders in collaboration with our partners is unwavering. We will continue to work together to make our communities safer,” FBI Richmond Special Agent in Charge Stanley M. Meador said. “This indictment highlights the steadfast commitment of federal, state, and local partners to hold violent criminals accountable.”

“These two arrests are the result of the exceptional and relentless investigative work of law enforcement from a myriad of agencies," said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. "Within 48 hours, our special agents had identified Walker and Williams as the murder suspects and had state charges placed thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Star City Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, the US Marshals Service, FBI, Roanoke City Police, Roanoke County Police, the Bedford County and Roanoke City Commonwealth's Attorneys, and Bedford County Sheriff's Office.”

According to court records and public documents, beginning around January 2023, Walker and Williams conspired to sell large amounts of marijuana that they bought from the victim in York, Pennsylvania.  By early April 2023, the defendants had accrued a $40,000 drug debt to the victim.  Rather than pay the debt, they arranged a final marijuana delivery from the victim and planned to rob him when he arrived. On April 17, 2023, the victim traveled to Walker’s house in southeast Roanoke, where Walker shot the victim twice in the head and stole the marijuana.  After killing the victim, Walker loaded his body into the trunk of the car and drove to a rural road in Bedford County where Walker set fire to the car.

The Virginia State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the United States Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,  Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, the Roanoke City Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, the Roanoke City Police Department, the Roanoke County Police Department, the City of Lynchburg Police Department, and the Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office are investigating the case.

The Star City Drug and Violent Crime Task Force also aided in the investigation and is comprised of officers from the Roanoke City Police Department, Roanoke County Police Department, City of Salem Virginia Police Department, the Vinton Police Department, and Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation's Salem Field Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Drew O. Inman and M. Coleman Adams are prosecuting the case.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated April 18, 2024

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime