Centreville Right from the start, Benjamin Luke Walker admitted he’d done wrong. He took the life of a 22-year-old Centreville woman and, for that, he was sentenced to nearly a half-century behind bars.
The tragedy occurred in the early morning hours of Jan. 15, 2012. The victim, Ryah Leslie, was murdered inside her townhouse in Centreville’s Woodgate Manor community. Walker was one of her roommates.
Later that same day, around 1 p.m., he walked inside the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center’s pre-release center and confessed to killing her. On April 25, 2012, in General District Court, witnesses testified about the crime.
County Deputy Sheriff David Webb was working in the pre-release center when Walker entered. He pointed him out in court and said Walker had approached him and asked to speak with a police officer.
“I told him I was a deputy and could help him,” said Webb. “He said he’d like to report a murder. I asked him if he knew who the murderer was, and his response was, ‘I did the killing.’” Webb also noted that Walker, then 22, didn’t have any visible injuries.
Under cross examination from defense attorney Crystal Meleen, Webb said he could smell alcohol on Walker’s breath from about a foot away. “I asked him if he’d been drinking, and he said, ‘The night before,’” said Webb. He said he then took Walker into custody and handcuffed him. Police later charged Walker with murder.
Leslie lived in the townhouse with three other roommates – her boyfriend, Travis Jordan, Walker and a man named Tristan Kennedy. Her bedroom was in the basement, and the others lived upstairs. In court, Jordan said he and Leslie dated.
He testified that, on Jan. 15, 2012, shortly after 3 a.m., Leslie “came into my room and into my bed, and it woke me up. She was drunk, and I asked her to go downstairs to her bedroom and she did. I only saw her for a minute or two.” He said he then went back to sleep.
That was the last time he saw Leslie alive. That afternoon, between 1:20 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., said Jordan, “I got a phone call and a text message that led me to believe I should go check on her wellbeing. I opened her bedroom door and saw her sitting on the ground against the mattress.”
He said Leslie had a big cut on her neck. “I placed my right hand on her right leg and realized she wasn’t wearing any panties,” said Jordan. “Her right hand was covered with blood. The reality of what happened hadn’t hit me, yet, until I looked into her eyes and saw she was no longer with us.”
Upset, he threw his cell phone and went into Kennedy’s room upstairs and told him, and Kennedy called the police. Jordan said Walker wasn’t in the house and he hadn’t seen him since the day before.
Police searched the townhouse that afternoon at 4:28 p.m. Among the items they seized were knives from the dishwasher, the basement and Walker’s bedroom, plus a box cutter from his bedroom.
After Walker’s preliminary hearing, his case was sent to the grand jury, which later indicted him on a charge of first-degree murder. He pleaded guilty Feb. 4 before Circuit Court Judge David Schell, who then set Walker’s sentencing for April 5. And when Walker returned to court that afternoon, Schell sentenced him to 48 years in prison.