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Former Walmart worker convicted of murdering Chesterfield mother

Posted at 8:45 PM, Aug 26, 2022

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A jury has convicted the boyfriend of a missing Chesterfield mother with her murder despite her body never being found.

John Harvey Howard was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of 38-year-old Linda Evans Lunsford.

The Chesterfield mother was last seen the day after Christmas in 1996 leaving the Walmart just off Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield with Howard. The pair were in a relationship and worked together at the store.

Some family members broke out in tears when the verdict was read.

"We’re just happy... it’s been 26 years," a family member told CBS 6.

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John Harvey Howard

RELATED: Former Walmart worker arrested for 1996 murder

The Hanover man’s attorney declined to comment on the verdict.

A judge released Howard on bond until sentencing citing that he had no prior criminal history, and the fact he has been fully compliant. He will remain living with his daughter in Arizona, according to his attorney.

The judge addressed Howard directly saying she hoped he recognized she was showing him grace.

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Chesterfield Police reopened the cold case in May 2021 when they charged Howard.

“Detectives, and everyone involved with it, initially did a really good job of documenting things that they did over the course of years,” Maj. Mike Louth with Chesterfield Police previously said. “As time progressed, we had people focus on this case and dissect every aspect which has brought us to where we are now."

At the time, police did not release what evidence tied Howard to Lunsford's disappearance, but Louth said that Howard has always been a person of interest in the case.

"All of the evidence and progress we've made over the last 25 years when you look at it in its totality, we believe it's the right thing to do,” said Louth. “Certainly the Commonwealth agreed as well as the grand jury... We have a solid case."

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