Police arrest two in St. Clair murder [November 13]

Police arrest two in St. Clair murder [November 13]

Charlottesville police announced Tuesday, November 13 the arrest of two men in connection with a November 9 murder of Jayne Warren McGowan. On the evening of November 12, city police arrested William Douglas Gentry, Jr., 22, and Michael Stuart Pritchett, 18. Both men have been charged with capital murder.

Police have arrested William Douglas Gentry, Jr., top, 22, and Michael Stuart Pritchett, bottom, 18, with the killing.

McGowan, 26, was found dead in her Charlottesville house on November 9 by co-workers who grew worried when McGowan did not show up for work at the AIDS/HIV Services Group (ASG), where she had been planning a 20th anniversary gala fundraiser for the past three months. A 2003 UVA graduate, McGowan had returned to Charlottesville only this July and had lived in her current house for six weeks.

Alerted mid-afternoon on November 9, police arrived shortly thereafter to discover the victim on her couch, dead as a result of a gunshot to the head. McGowan’s car was stolen, and was found two days later abandoned and hidden in a wooded area located off the 200 block of Fairway Avenue in the Woolen Mills area, a relatively short distance from her home on St. Clair Avenue, in the Martha Jefferson neighborhood.

According to a press release from the city, police investigators received information on November 12 which led them to Gentry and Pritchett. Police have recovered two handguns that they believe Gentry and Pritchett used in the crime. Officials are still searching for additional evidence.

Jayne Warren McGowan, 26, was found murdered on November 9.

Police believe that the victim was killed either late Thursday evening or early Friday morning. At a press conference Monday, November 12, police could not confirm reports that a computer and money were stolen, or that the house may have been a onetime abode of a drug dealer.

Police still are not commenting on the motive. In Tuesday’s press release, Police Chief Tim Longo said, "On the day before her parents have to bury their daughter Jayne, I hope that this news will allow them to say goodbye with better closure and end this terrible chapter in their lives."

Ric Barrick, city spokesperson, is also on the Board of Directors for ASG and was in daily contact with McGowan regarding the planning of the gala that was held November 10. He had talked with her that Thursday and says, "She was the last person you would expect something like this to happen to," describing her as "kind, generous and open."

"She was a wonderful person who would have changed other peoples’ lives," Barrick says. "It’s very unfortunate that she won’t be around to do that. She was the last person you would expect something like this to happen to."—with additional reporting by Scott Weaver

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