In 1987, Velma Peregory was a 57-year-old widow who had raised her three boys in Norfolk, Virginia. Velma’s oldest son, Randy Peregory, told Dateline his mother was “such a sweet lady.” Velma went to church every Sunday, Randy said, adding that, when they were kids, “every night she read us a Bible story in bed.”
According to Randy, 1987 started as a happy time in the Peregory family. Both of his brothers had just had children, and “Velma was tickled pink to have two grandbabies in the world.”
On February 22, Velma spent the afternoon playing with her two grandchildren. The next couple of days, life went on as normal, and Randy said he and his brothers had planned to help Velma move from Virginia Beach to Norfolk the following weekend. But before the weekend, however, Randy tried to contact his mother to double check when he was supposed to come and help her.
It was Wednesday, February 25 when he called. Velma didn’t answer.
Randy told Dateline a few other people were trying to get ahold of Velma as well, to no avail. The next day, on Thursday, February 26, one of Velma’s longtime friends went to Velma’s Virginia Beach apartment complex and asked a maintenance worker to open the door. Soon after, Randy said he received an unnerving phone call.
“I received a phone call at my office, around midday, saying, “You need to get over here. Something happened with your mom,’” Randy told Dateline.
Randy says he rushed to his mother’s apartment complex. His aunt, Velma’s sister, was already there. Randy remembers her walking over to him and telling him the unimaginable news: his mother Velma was dead.
“It was just terrible. They said she was found, shot twice in the head, face down with a pillow over her head,” Randy told Dateline.
According to a press release by the Cold Case Unit at the Virginia Beach Police, Velma was found shot to death inside her locked apartment at 8:45 a.m. The release said “a search of the scene failed to reveal a motive for this murder.”
Dateline was unable to reach someone with knowledge of the case at Virginia Beach Police Department. Randy told Dateline that police began their investigation immediately.
Ten years after the murder, police told a local paper that there was no sign of a struggle or forced entry in Velma’s apartment. Randy told Dateline there are eight apartments in the building and not one of his mother’s neighbors reported hearing any gunshots.
During the initial investigation, according to the local paper, police found a few hundred dollars in cash in Velma’s purse. Her diamond ring and other valuable jewelry were still on her body when she was found. Police told the local paper they quickly ruled out burglary and believe Velma may have opened the door to the person who killed her.
Randy told Dateline he disagrees with that theory. He said his mother lived alone and would never have opened the door if she didn’t know the person.
Randy told Dateline he was questioned by police as a potential suspect after the murder.
“I never even thought about me being a suspect. I didn’t get a lawyer for the longest time, because I felt like I didn’t need one,” he said. “Even my brothers felt that way. We had nothing to hide.”
Randy told Dateline he has cooperated with police and has never owned a weapon. Randy denies any involvement in his mother’s murder.
No one has ever been charged in connection with Velma’s murder, and the motive is still unknown to family and police.
Randy told Dateline he has tried his best to keep his mother’s name in the media.
“I think if it’s going to get solved, it’s going to be through DNA,” he said. “That’s all I want -- is for this to be solved. My mother didn’t deserve this. She was a good woman.”
Randy continued to say that within the past few years, he has become more religious, as his mother was. He told Dateline that a few weeks ago he prayed, “Please Lord, don’t let me leave this world without knowing who did this. Help us solve this.”
Randy recalled how one of his cousin’s would always say to the family: “If you die first, you get up there, find out what happened to Auntie Velma and send us a message.”
If you have any information on the circumstances surrounding Velma’s murder, please call the Virginia Beach Police Cold Case Homicide Unit at 757-385-4241.