Coeburn murder suspect dead following high-speed pursuit in Scott County

Stephen Igo • Oct 1, 2017 at 10:54 PM

WEBER CITY — Authorities say a Coeburn man sought by Wise County police all day Sunday for the murder of his estranged wife led law enforcement agencies on a high-speed chase in Scott County before shooting himself to death in Weber City.

The day's events began after 10:30 a.m. Sunday when 44-year-old Todd Allen Richardson called Wise County Central Dispatch to confess to shooting his wife, Veronica Lynn Richardson, in their home on Grace Covenant Road in Coeburn.

During a press conference at the Weber City scene following the day’s tragic events, Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp said Richardson had a second telephone conversation with a Wise County Sheriff’s Office investigator in which Richardson again confessed to his estranged wife's murder.

Slemp said Richardson said his wife left the home some weeks ago to live separately from him, and he had promised her he would not be at the residence so she could come retrieve some personal belongings on Sunday.

Instead, Slemp said when Richardson’s estranged wife was in the home, he entered via a back door and shot his wife to death. Richardson fled the scene in a 2015 Toyota Tacoma four-door pickup truck.

Richardson’s whereabouts during the day Sunday remain unknown, Slemp said, but at around 7:16 p.m. along U.S. Route 23 southbound in the Speers Ferry area of Scott County, Richardson's vehicle was spotted and a swarm of Scott County law enforcement, Virginia State Police and WCSO followed on a 20-minute high-speed chase toward Gate City and eventually Weber City, where the final scene unfolded.

Slemp said the chase south on U.S. 23 hit speeds between 90 and 100 mph. In Weber City, spike strips were used, flattening at least one of the truck tires. Slemp said Richardson's vehicle came to a stop in the southbound lanes of U.S. 23 near the Burger King in Weber City, and "numerous" efforts by police to persuade Richardson to exit his vehicle and peacefully surrender were unsuccessful.

At 7:53 p.m., Slemp said officers approached the vehicle and discovered Richardson dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Slemp said what transpired Sunday was "a tragic case, a tragic scene both here (Weber City) and in Coeburn, a tragic day for all involved."

Slemp said Sunday's incidents were a sad note to the fact October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and while no details of the Richardson's history were immediately available, Sunday's events certainly began as domestic in nature.

"There are no winners today. This is a tragic case," Slemp said. "Do understand in cases like these, oftentimes victims of domestic violence are afraid to leave their spouse. And here in Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the importance of getting assistance of law enforcement, shelters, victim advocates, counselors — there are just many sources you can turn to as a victim. Your case doesn't have to end like this one."

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