Hill murder: Police need information

Published 9:12 pm Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sixteen months after a retired Philadelphia detective was murdered in her home, police say they are no closer to solving the case and need people to come forward with information.

Virginia Marie Hill, 69, was murdered in the early morning hours of Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. Her daughter, Julina Hill, called 911 about 5:28 a.m. and reported that several people were in the house on Collier Crescent “demanding her mother … tell them where the safe was located,” according to a search warrant filed in Suffolk Circuit Court shortly after the case.

Dispatchers heard a gunshot, and Julina Hill told dispatchers the suspects ran away. Virginia Hill was found by responding officers suffering from a gunshot wound and was transported by emergency medical services to Sentara Obici Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

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Two safes were among the items taken in the search warrant.

“It’s strange, and it’s been a year and four months now since she died,” said Kathleen Smith, a retired sergeant in the Philadelphia Police Department. “I knew Ginny from work. She was a very private person.”

Hill joined the Philadelphia police department in 1977, stepping into the Juvenile Aid Division in 1981, where she worked before retiring in 2002. She became a missing persons specialist in 1989.

“You just don’t give up on these cases and you don’t close them until you find the child, or in some cases, identify their bodies at the morgue,” Hill said in a 2003 interview with the News-Herald. “The cases I investigated are the kind that haunt you. They keep you up at night, but you can’t let it make you fall apart. You have to … you are driven to find these kids.”

During her tenure in Philadelphia, eight of the city’s 12 longest-running missing-child mysteries were solved, Hill said in 2005. She moved to Suffolk after her retirement.

“It’s horrifying to me that somebody spent their career helping others and then gets blown away. It’s mind-boggling,” Smith said.

Smith speculated that it seems like Hill was targeted.

“It comes back to who knew she had that stuff,” Smith said. “What were they looking for?”

Suffolk Police Department Capt. Janet Brandsasse, the investigations captain, said the case is at a standstill, with police unable to determine even a motive for the crime.

“We’re waiting for the public to come forward,” she said. “Usually you hear chatter, but we’re not hearing any chatter on this one.”

Attempts to contact the Hill family were unsuccessful. The family has moved away from the home, a telephone number listed for Virginia Hill has been disconnected, and one of Hill’s daughters did not respond to a Facebook message.

Anyone who has information is asked to call Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP or text the keyword SPDVATIP and the tip to 274637 (CRIMES). Tipsters never have to give their names or appear in court, and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.