Man admits to 1982 rape and murder

Man admits to 1982 rape and murder

The man responsible for a decades-old Culpeper rape and murder pleaded guilty April 11, a local prosecutor announced. Kenneth Maurice Tinsley struck a plea deal that says he raped 19-year-old Rebecca Lynn Williams, and acknowledges there’s enough evidence to also convict him in her stabbing death. The case caused an innocent man—Earl Washington, Jr.—to spend 17 years behind bars.

Williams was raped and stabbed 38 times in her Culpeper home while her husband was out and her two children were in another room. DNA found at the scene was eventually confirmed to be Tinsley’s.


A guilty plea from Kenneth Tinsley puts an end to a 25-year-old murder case that was originally pinned on the wrong man, Earl Washington Jr. (above). Washington’s wrongful imprisonment lasted 17 years.

Earl Washington, Jr., a mildly retarded Culpeper farm worker, was convicted in 1984 of capital murder and served nearly two decades of prison time and nine and a half years on death row. DNA evidence exonerated him in 2000.

Last year, a judge found that Curtis Reese Wilmore, the state investigator who interrogated Washington, fed him key details about the case to elicit a confession. A judgment of $2.25 million was granted against the Wilmore estate (Wilmore died in 1994), but the Wilmores appealed the judgment. Washington’s lawyers recently reached a tentative deal with the state of Virginia to award him $1.9 million in compensation for his time served.

Tinsley is already serving life in prison at Sussex II state prison for a rape in Albemarle County. Albemarle Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Moore, who acted as special prosecutor, says he is “very satisfied” with the outcome of the 25-year-old case.

More C-VILLE coverage of the Earl Whasington, Jr. story:

Washington seeks Payback
Wrongly imprisoned man never compensated

Washington wins $2.25M
Jury awards restitution for false imprisonment

Washington will seek official exoneration
Police may have found real killer in decades-old rape, murder case

Washington to get $1.9 M
State will compensate former death row inmate for wrongful imprisonment

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