Virginia State Police are still looking for the murderer of Gary Nolan Romano (1955 – 1980) who was found dead on the bench seat of a blue 1977 Chevrolet pickup with a West Virginia license plate.
The truck was found by a road crew worker on the shoulder of Interstate 81 South, near the 94-mile marker. Both doors were closed and unlocked.
Romano (25) died from a single gunshot wound to his head. Authorities think he might have been shot while he was sleeping. He was found on June 30, 1980; however, I have not found in the papers how long he had been dead. I also did not see it confirmed that the truck belonged to Romano.
Virginia State Police Special Agent Russell Edwards said that there were no witnesses. However, they did retrieve latent prints from the truck in 1980. The Roanoke lab has entered them into their databases. No matches yet.
They are also still trying to find DNA on the many cigarette butts that were found in the truck according to this piece of January 2023. Any profiles found are compared to those from the FBI’s CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) database.
“The road crew worker saw the pickup there at 6:30 a.m.,” Edwards said. “He looked inside around noon and discovered the body.” When he saw blood, he called the State Police. But other than this, there is not much to go on.
Or maybe there is. I have dived into the newspaper archives.
In the Raleigh Register (Beckley, W. VA) of May 28, 1975 there is a mention of a Gary Romano who was also from Bluefield, West Virginia, and is close to the victim’s age. The Romano found dead was born on Dec 7, 1955. So, in May 1975, he would have been nineteen.
The paper’s Romano is listed as eighteen. But if that is a typo, then Romano might have been part of a group of people who robbed several stores. If you read the 1975-piece, armed men forced that Romano to come with them but then he escaped unharmed.
I also found this in the Raleigh Register (Beckley, W. VA) of Jan 11, 1976. Again, a Gary Romano from Bluefield West Virginia. This time he is listed as twenty, which fits the victim’s age. The paper’s Romano was charged with grand larceny in four robberies and released on $2000 bond. The paper’s Romano was part of a group using an insider in several robberies. Not all suspects had been caught.
IF this is the same Gary Romano it could be worth checking any latent prints or DNA from the cigarette butts with the people from back in the day. I have not been able to find anything related to those robberies such as a trial, etc. but that does not mean it did not take place. I am not accusing anyone but as the victim’s story is so summarily described online, lacking a motive, etc. it is worth checking every detail that we can find.
Last, Edwards said he has not found any links between Romano and the Gina Hall case despite their proximity.
If you have any information about this case, please call Virginia State Police Special Agent B. Russell Edwards at (276) 228-3131 or email him at bci-wytheville @ vsp dot virginia dot gov