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A quarter century later, grandchildren keep faith on homicide investigation

A quarter century later, grandchildren keep faith on homicide investigation

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The pain is still with Kimberly and Tonya Fitzgerald.

Twenty-five years ago, on Feb. 19, 1993, their grandfather Silas Calloway Sr. was killed at his home in Blairs.

Since then, both law enforcement and two generations of family members have been hoping and searching for crucial evidence that will solve the homicide case.

“This is something you just can’t forget,” Kimberly said.

Calloway was found dead in his truck, and was initially thought to have died of a heart attack. The medical examiner later ruled the death to be from strangulation.

Investigators have a potential suspect in the case, but need additional evidence for a conviction, Pittsylvania County Sheriff Mike Taylor said.

Kimberly thinks someone out there knows what happened, but is too scared to come forward with their information.

“We just want justice for him,” Kimberly said.

For more than 20 years, Silas’ daughter, Thelma Smith, never stopped checking in with investigators or looking for closure. In past interviews with the Register & Bee, Smith said she wouldn’t give up on the investigation. Her goal in life was to find out why Calloway was killed.

When Smith died suddenly in 2016, Kimberly and Tonya took up the mantle for her.

“For 23 years, she would call every week about her father’s case,” Kimberly said. “She never gave up hope.”

There’s even a billboard, along U.S. 29 in Blairs, devoted to the slaying — “Who murdered Silas Calloway Sr.” it asks.

The Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office and the Pittsylvania County Crime Stoppers arranged the display in the summer of 2015. It’s displayed that question, a picture of him, and the number to call with information, ever since.

Kimberly and Tonya both recall their grandfather fondly. As children, their time spent working on his Blairs farm helped shape their values as adults.

“He was like a father to all the grandkids,” Kimberly said.

Tonya said Calloway inspired her in how she cared for her own loved ones.

“I do what I do to take care of my family, because of him,” she said, choking back tears.

Taylor — who was a chief investigator when Calloway was killed — said the case has stayed with him for decades.

“It’s frustrating for us to be so close in making an arrest in this investigation that stays just arm’s length away from prosecution,” Taylor said in an email. “We still have the mindset that we are Silas’ voice. We continue to pray for the break that will bring all the evidence together for an arrest of Silas’ killer.” 

Tonya said she suspected her father was involved in an attempted robbery, and added he would have gladly given the suspect his money.

“They didn’t have to kill them,” she said. “They didn’t have to take his life.”

Taylor was tight-lipped about what evidence law enforcement needed to solve the case and make an arrest.

“I can’t speak too much about any evidence that we currently possess for fear of tainting a future prosecution,” he said.  

He hoped press coverage would convince members of the public to come forward with more information about the case.

“It’s very painful, and so many years have gone by,” Kimberly added.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office at (434) 432-7000, the Pittsylvania County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office at (434) 432-7900 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at (800) 791-0044.

Trevor Metcalfe reports for the Danville Register & Bee. Contact him at tmetcalfe@registerbee.com or (434) 791-7983.

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