The high-powered expert witness who testified last week in the manslaughter trial of another former deputy police chief, Michael Hudson, convicted by a jury on Friday of shooting a 19-year-old man, was charged with hiring a hit man to kill her husband and their 6-year-old daughter.
Virginia Gwinn, 49, a former in-house chief investigator in the Arlington County Police Department who testified for the prosecution in the Hudson trial, admitted in a plea agreement that she hired a hit man in 2001 to kill her husband, John Stone, and their 6-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. The former deputy police chief has been under federal investigation for several years, and a former FBI profiler testified last week that he believed Stone and Gwinn were both on a hit list when she hired a hit man to do their killing.
Stone, a black man who was fired from his job as an industrial security guard after she hired the hit man, gave up contact with detectives in 2001, after finding a missed jury summons, but the investigation didn’t start moving again until 2014.
“She intentionally set out to violate their family’s and their daughter’s lives,” Jefferson County Sheriff’s Detective David Conroy told The Washington Post last week.
Conroy said that Stone initially told investigators that the hit man never came back, but after learning that Gwinn was now working as a detective, Stone picked up the phone and called her and started to confess. A few days later, Conroy said Stone told investigators that she had hired an associate to do their killing.
Gwinn pleaded guilty to two counts of having a hidden weapon and two counts of attempting to commit capital murder. She will be sentenced to more than 30 years in prison, although the federal prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 20 years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
There is no indication Stone or Elizabeth are still alive, but he has been consulting with defense attorneys regarding plans to appeal the conviction.
In 2011, Gwinn became one of the highest-ranking women in the modern history of the Arlington County Police Department, where she served as assistant chief in charge of the evidence division. After she was fired in 2013, Gwinn sued Arlington, saying that the county denied her a hearing and unfairly fired her.
After she worked for Arlington for 19 years, she was hired by a team of lawyers to represent Catherine Todd, a former chief of the New York Police Department who was charged with interfering with Internal Affairs investigators probing her department’s handling of the 1993 death of her husband, who was accused of drugging and raping a woman, an investigation that the district attorney’s office dropped the following year, angering the family and the case’s investigator.
The Washington Post’s Mark Berman contributed to this story.