Anne Thornton Fergusson and her sister Peggy Thornton Lammers and their families spent the 2017 4th of July weekend at the Thornton family vacation home on Stove Point in Deltaville, Virginia. According to Anne, Peggy had been living with her in Richmond on and off since their father died in November of 2016 to help take care of estate matters. Prior to that, Peggy had been in Virginia taking care of their father as his health declined.
Peggy’s husband Tony and their son came in from Cleveland, Ohio for long weekend, but left right after the holiday as Tony had to get back for work. Peggy returned to Richmond with her sister’s family for a few days and then went back to the Stove Point house in Deltaville on Saturday, July 8 for a relaxing weekend alone, according to Anne.
Anne told Dateline the family home in Deltaville is on a strip of land about two miles from the main road.
“A majority of the homes were summer vacation homes, but there were a few full-time residents that lived there too. It was a private place, but not so private that you’d be forced to turn around,” Anne said. “Workmen would come in and out, fix the air conditioners, and things like that.”
Anne said she and the rest of her family were in contact with Peggy throughout the weekend.
“We were very close. She was passionate about her family,” Anne said of Peggy. “She was just a big goof. Funny as could be.”
On Monday evening, Anne said Peggy told her she although she had planned to drive back to Richmond that day, she decided to stay over one more night. It was around 7:00 p.m. when the sisters spoke on the phone, Anne recalled. It would be the last time they spoke.
The next day, Tuesday, July 10, no one could get in contact with Peggy. After texts and calls went unanswered, Peggy’s husband Tony contacted the Middlesex County deputies to request a welfare check, Anne told Dateline.
Local news outlets reported that when a deputy arrived at the home around 6:00 p.m. that evening, he noticed some items to be out of place. The deputy then found a far more gruesome discovery: Peggy. She was lying on the hallway floor in a pool of blood. She was barefoot, according to local reports, but there were bloody shoe prints on the floor of the residence.
A medical examiner later determined that Peggy died from blunt force trauma to the head.
The Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office did not reply to Dateline’s request for comment on this story, but according to local media, police collected multiple items from the home and submitted them to the Virginia State Police Forensic Lab for analysis. Reports indicate investigators seized several beer bottles and a knife blade from the residence. They also swabbed six items to collect DNA samples.
In a statement shortly after Peggy’s murder, Middlesex County Sheriff David Bushey said, “I want to assure the Middlesex County community the sheriff’s office has made this case a top priority.”
“It was a horrific shock that she was even gone,” Anne told Dateline.
Anne further detailed her pain in an email to the local newspaper, The Southside Sentinel.
“I will never get over losing my sister, my best friend, in our favorite place on earth in such a violent and cruel way,” Anne wrote. “My goal is to keep Peggy’s name in the news, hoping that it will prompt someone to come forward with information. The only thing sustaining me through this difficult time is to do anything I can to help this be solved and not forgotten.”
In December of 2017, the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office said the state forensic lab identified DNA from the crime scene. It did not belong to Peggy.
In May of 2018, Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Garth Wheeler told the local newspaper that authorities “feel confident that an arrest is imminent.”
On July 11, 2018 – one year after Peggy’s murder – Detective Adam Miller of the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office assured the local paper that “this case is still an active case. It has not reached cold case status. I’m doing everything in my power to not let that happen.”
Anne told Dateline that she has been frustrated by the lack of communication between the police and their family.
Two years on, Anne is still searching for answers in her sister Peggy’s murder at the house the family loved so much.
“I still view the house as a crime scene,” Anne said. “No one stays there anymore.”
If you have any information on the murder of Peggy Lammers, please contact the Middlesex County Sheriff's Department at (804) 758-2779.