South Richmond family grieves as police search for fatal hit-and-run driver

Posted at 11:23 PM, Aug 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-30 06:50:29-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR)- How will police ever find the driver that hit and killed Jeffrey Shawn Smith in South Richmond Tuesday night?

In such cases they typically rely on community tips and evidence.  But they also lean on body shop businesses in the area to do their part.

Patrick Lowry, the manager at a Maaco shop off Research Road in Chesterfield, says if someone wants a fast fix-up job, or wants to give their car a cosmetic overhaul, that could be a red flag.  "For instance, a late-model car and someone wants to change the entire color," he said.

Body shops like Maaco in Central Virginia say they keep up with what's going on in the news to make sure they don't help a criminal conceal his crime.  "The way news spreads through media outlets these days, I think all body shops are in tune with what's going on," said Lowry.

Richmond police are asking anyone out there that has seen a small blue car, possibly a Volkswagon, with extensive damage to the front passenger side to give them a call.  They believe that's the car that killed Smith on Walmsley Boulevard near Dorset Road Tuesday night

"The person who did this -they're cowards,” said Jessica Smith.  “You can't hit someone and not know."

Smith is an assistant manager at the 7-11 close to the crash scene.  Surveillance video from Tuesday shows a man at the check-out counter, which Smith says is her uncle Jeff.  He walked out and that was the last time Jessica Smith saw him alive.

Now his family is trying to cope with a tremendous and tragic loss.  "Put yourself in my shoes,” said his sister, Kim Darden.  “If someone has something to tell, they need to tell it."

Meanwhile detectives are piecing together evidence left at the scene.  Body shop experts say you may be surprised that just like fingerprints, cars have identifying marks, too.

“On the inside of the lens and bulb there are identifying marks that can help locate the make and model and sometimes manufacture of the car," said Lowry.

Jeffrey Smith was about a quarter-mile from the Dorset Road home where he was staying.  People living in that Southside community are begging city leaders to petition to install sidewalks so such tragedies don't happen to another pedestrian.

If you have information that can help police crack this case, you’re urged to call Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.