Friends recall murder victim

Published 8:20 pm Monday, October 20, 2014

As the group’s first gathering since Saturday’s violent murder of a beloved member, Tuesday’s monthly meeting of AARP Suffolk Chapter 4030 will be a heartbreaking one.

Virginia Marie Hill, 69, discovered Saturday in her Walnut Hill Estates home mortally wounded by gunfire, had been secretary of the chapter between 2012 and this year, according to friend Cheryl Fontes.

Detective: Virginia Marie Hill, pictured here at her home in 2005 during a newspaper interview, was killed at home Saturday morning. Police have ruled her death a homicide.

Detective: Virginia Marie Hill, pictured here at her home in 2005 during a newspaper interview, was killed at home Saturday morning. Police have ruled her death a homicide.

“This meeting is going to be pretty sad,” said Fontes, who joined the chapter several years ago.

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Fontes described Hill as a faithful member who helped people and rarely missed a meeting.

“Whenever you wanted something done, she was always there to help,” Fontes said.

“Everybody doesn’t come every single month, but those that do are very committed, and she was one of those — there almost every single month.”

Besides the camaraderie, many of the chapter’s 75-odd members attend meetings for the “coffee and pastries and the lunch,” Fontes said.

Many members bring entrees, Fontes said. Otherwise, they pay $4 to partake.

Fontes said Hill attended meetings like clockwork for the “socializing and the luncheon.”

According to city spokeswoman Diana Klink, police were called to Hill’s home at 5:28 a.m. Saturday. She was pronounced dead a short time later at Sentara Obici Hospital.

City officials, who initially described Hill only as the victim of “trauma,” announced on Monday that Hill had been shot.

During a storied career, Hill was a missing child specialist with the police department in Philadelphia between 1989 and her 2002 retirement.

During a Suffolk News-Herald interview in 2005, she spoke of her tenacity in locating missing children. Eight of the city’s 12 longest-running such cases were solved during her tenure in Philadelphia.

Fontes recalled a speech Hill gave to the AARP chapter about her career. “A lot of people were not aware of it at the time, and we were most impressed,” Fontes said.

“She obviously was proud of it, because she had saved little memorabilia. You don’t realize when you are looking at older people that they may have led interesting and wonderful lives.”

Hill loved the chapter’s white elephant sales, Fontes said, adding, “She would bid for the things that she liked, and she’d go to the very end.”

“Every so often we have a book sale, and she’d buy all kinds of books, for herself, her friends and her family,” Fontes continued. “She’d leave with a box of stuff, sometimes.”

Fontes said that when she first met her, Hill gave her some newspaper clippings on her career to read.

“I was just amazed,” Fontes said. “She was very proud of the work she did.”

Fontes expects most of the membership at Tuesday’s chapter meeting, at Open Door Church on Kings Fork Road, will have heard of Hill’s murder, though it may be a horrible surprise for one or two, she added.

“I do know that she loved her family,” Fontes said. “She often would say, ‘I’m going to get that for my grandchild’ or ‘my nephew,’ or something.”

Suffolk police urge anyone with information on Hill’s murder to contact Crime Line at 1-888-Lock-U-Up. Callers do not have to give their names or appear in court.

Citizens can also utilize TipSoft by visiting, or by texting the word

“CRIMES” (274637) with the keyword SPDVATIP.

TipSoft also supports users’ ability to submit videos or photos using the TipSoft mobile app. Information leading to an arrest could qualify for a reward of up to $1,000.