Two suspected drug traffickers charged in 2023 killing of man found in burning car in Bedford Co.

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – Two suspected drug traffickers are now facing federal charges in connection with a murder from last year.

It’s believed that in April 2023, 30-year-old Joseph Walker and 21-year-old Garret Williams, both from Lynchburg, arranged a final marijuana delivery from a 20-year-old in Pennsylvania, where they planned to rob him instead of paying a $40,000 debt.

On April 17, 2023, the victim, identified as Ethan Bert from York, Pennsylvania, traveled to Walker’s house in Southwest Roanoke. Investigators say when he arrived, Walker shot Bert twice in the head, stole the marijuana, and then put his body in the drunk of a car and drove to a rural road in Bedford County, where he set it on fire to get rid of the evidence.

Last week, a grand jury accused Walker of conspiring to traffic marijuana, committing robbery and conspiring to commit robbery. In addition to this, Walker has been charged with discharging a firearm to further the drug trafficking and robbery, possessing firearms as a prohibited person and committing arson.

Authorities previously told 10 News that Walker had an extensive criminal history, which includes distribution of marijuana, distribution of marijuana while in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

A man from Goodview, Jonathan Bell, is also charged and is facing an accessory after-the-fact homicide charge in connection with the case.

“Our dedication to protecting the public from violent offenders in collaboration with our partners is unwavering. We will continue to work together to make our communities safer,” FBI Richmond Special Agent in Charge Stanley M. Meador said. “This indictment highlights the steadfast commitment of federal, state, and local partners to hold violent criminals accountable.”

“These two arrests are the result of the exceptional and relentless investigative work of law enforcement from a myriad of agencies,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Within 48 hours, our special agents had identified Walker and Williams as the murder suspects and had state charges placed thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Star City Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, the US Marshals Service, FBI, Roanoke City Police, Roanoke County Police, the Bedford County and Roanoke City Commonwealth’s Attorneys, and Bedford County Sheriff’s Office.”

About the Author

Jazmine Otey joined the 10 News team in February 2021.

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