By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
The bodies of two homicide victims have been returned to their families for burial seven months after they were discovered in shallow graves off Tates Creek Road.
Although neither body has been officially identified by forensics evidence, law enforcement officials believe the remains are those of Sonsaray “Sonsi” Warford and Charles “Chew” Walker, Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith said. Warford and Walker, who were a couple, were 30 at the time of their disappearances in June 2010.
Daniel Keene, 26, and Matthew Denholm, 28, were charged March 26 with two counts each of murder, kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence in the couple’s deaths. Keene and Denholm are accused of stabbing Walker to death after they were paid by a local drug dealer to kill him, according to preliminary hearing testimony by Richmond Police Detective William O’Donnell.
Warford also was taken from the Keystone Drive apartment she shared with Walker and shot to death, O’Donnell testified.
Denholm’s attorney Bridget Saunders entered a motion March 30 to preserve all physical evidence in the case, including the bodies. District Judge Brandy O. Brown approved the motion.
Family and friends of the couple have attended all of Keene and Denholm’s court appearances, and nearly every time the request to release the bodies for burial has been brought up.
Saunders said in an April court appearance that because the bodies had been in the ground for nearly two years and experienced different degrees of decomposition, she wanted her own expert, Delaware Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Richard Callery, to examine the remains.
Smith said this is the first time in his experience that the bodies of homicide victims have been kept from burial for so long.
“This was a little unusual,” he said. “But every case is different.”
Judge Jean C. Logue lifted the evidence preservation order Friday for the bodies, Smith said.
The next court date in the case is a status hearing at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 16. Keene and Denholm’s trial is scheduled for Aug. 12, 2013.
An obituary for Warford appeared in Tuesday’s Register, and Walker’s obituary is in today’s edition on Page A2. All obituaries can be accessed online at www.richmondregister.com/obituaries.