Police: Man charged in 35-year-old Norfolk cold case

Daniel Joseph Johnston, 66, has been charged with first-degree murder in the 1981 death of Donna K. Walker, 20. (Courtesy of the Norfolk Police Department)
Daniel Joseph Johnston, 66, has been charged with first-degree murder in the 1981 death of Donna K. Walker, 20. (Courtesy of the Norfolk Police Department)

A man has been formally charged in the 1981 murder of a 20-year-old Norfolk woman.

Donna K. Walker’s father found her dead in her apartment, located at 7911 Redmon Rd., on Sept. 5, 1981.

Norfolk police investigated the murder, but couldn’t develop a suspect. The case went cold for 35 years.

In 2013, detectives reopened the case. After a three-year investigation, which included a review of forensic evidence and interviews with potential witnesses, police developed Daniel Joseph Johnston, 66, as a suspect, according to a Norfolk Police Department news release.

Johnston was 31 at the time of the murder. He lived in the Harbor North apartments, located at 4506 E. Ocean Ave., and worked at area funeral homes and cemeteries.

On Wednesday, a grand jury formally indicted Johnston for first-degree murder in Norfolk Circuit Court.

He is currently serving time at the Elmira Correctional Facility in New York for unrelated charges, but will be extradited to Virginia.

Police are still investigating Walker’s death. Anyone with information about the crime should call the Norfolk Cold Case Unit at 757-664-7137 or the Norfolk Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.

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Adrienne Mayfield is an award-winning, multi-media journalist hailing from Clermont, Fla. She moved to Lynchburg, Va. on a whim when she was 19, and worked her way to Hampton Roads in 2013. Adrienne is passionate about telling people stories via covering public safety and the judicial system. She isn’t afraid to take a heads-on approach to covering crime, including knocking on doors to get the details police aren’t sharing. Adrienne is a 2014 Old Dominion University graduate who still lives within walking distance of the college. You may see her cruising around Downtown Norfolk on her bike, enjoying a sandwich from Grilled Cheese Bistro or playing fetch with her dog, Greta, at the Colonial Place dog park.