Remembering 2019: Task force regroups on unsolved Childs-Metzler murders

The bodies of the two students were found in a Caldwell Fields’ parking spot. The “red X” marks where the 1992 Toyota was discovered the morning of August 10, 2009.

By Marty Gordon

A multi-jurisdictional task force in August announced it would take another look at a 10-year-old Montgomery County murder case. Heidi Childs and David Metzler were found shot to death at a popular camping site in the Jefferson National Forest on August 26, 2009. The incident has gown unsolved as police continue to look for the person or persons involved in the shooting.

The couple had apparently been sitting in their car when someone approached them at Caldwell Fields.

It has been five years since the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department said they had DNA evidence in the case. Since then, investigators have not linked that DNA to any individual.

Both victims had been shot by a 30-30 rifle, and pieces of clothing outside the vehicle showed Childs had tried to escape from their killer.  Metzler was shot while sitting in the driver’s seat of his vehicle.

The location, on Craig Creek Road near Pandapas Pond, is popular for Virginia Tech students for camping and just hanging out. Police still hope someone saw or heard something and might come forward with the new attention to the crime.

Metzler was driving a 1992 Toyota Camry and had asked Childs to drive to the isolated spot. The two had dated for several years, and friends say it was not out of the ordinary for them to take a drive to Caldwell Fields.

During a 2012 press conference, investigators revealed that several items belonging to Childs, including a cellphone and a Virginia Tech ID, were missing.

Since the last announcement, little or no information about the incident has surfaced, but the initial task force was never dismantled. The crime has been treated as an open “cold case,” and police have received continued tips over the past few years.

The Virginia State Police is taking the lead into the relaunch of the task force and will include the Blacksburg Police Department, the U.S. Forest Service, the FBI, the U.S. Marshall’s office, the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Montgomery County’s Sheriff Department in its investigation.

Lt. Colonel Tim Lyon, director of the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said it’s time to come forward and let these families find some sense of peace.

“Heidi’s parents and siblings, David’s parents and siblings, and their friends have all been held hostage long enough,” he said.

Also during the August press conference, police announced an increase in the reward to $100,000. Tips can be submitted anonymously at a new website:, or by phone at 540-375-9589.