DELTAVILLE, Va. –Eight months have passed since Margaret Thornton Lammers was found dead with a bloody crime scene surrounding her inside her family`s Deltaville cottage on Stove Point Road.
The 61-year-old woman, who went by Peggy, lived in Ohio with her husband, but returned to Richmond in 2016 to take care of her dying father.
She headed by herself to the 1970-built secluded waterfront getaway on July 8. Only one road leads to the longtime vacation home.
Peggy’s sister Anne Fergusson said she became concerned three days later, when Peggy stopped answering phone calls and text messages.
"It was rare she was here alone and rare she didn`t have her dog with her, or my dog,” Anne said.
One of Lammers` three children also grew worried when she couldn`t get a hold of her mom, especially since she was texting her mom about something she knew her mom would usually respond to.
That’s when Peggy’s husband contacted the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office and requested a welfare check.
“I talked to my brother in law about 9, he said they said there are units on the scene, and he didn`t know what that meant,” Anne recalled.
A sliding glass door was left open, and the deputy walked in to find Peggy lying barefoot in a pool of blood, with one bloody shoe print on the floor nearby.
But Anne said it would be weeks before investigators announced that they suspected foul play.
“I had to hear murder to believe it,” said Anne.
The medical examiner would later rule the cause of death as blunt force trauma. All around Peggy there were signs of a struggle; handbags had been dumped out and a telescope had been knocked over.
A knife, several beer bottles, and a half dozen DNA swabs were collected as evidence.
In December, the state forensics lab in Richmond confirmed that some of the DNA belonged to a person other than Peggy.
But to this day, no suspect has been named, and the family left wondering if she was killed during a random break-in gone bad, or if she was specifically targeted.
“It`s remote, it`s hard to get to, you`ve gotta know what you`re doing,” Anne said.
The neighborhood is one way in, one way out, with a lot of twists and turns. Investigators said that whoever killed Peggy most likely knew the landscape.
"If you are going into that area of the county -- that's your intent,” said Major Michael Sampson with the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office.
"Everybody is a suspect, but we don't believe there's an imminent danger, a killer running around Deltaville,” Major Sampson said.
He also does not believe Peggy was the victim of a botched burglary.
“Knowing her car was there, items of value in the home that were not taken, it's another piece of evidence that leads our detectives in a certain direction,” Sampson said.
Investigators believe the suspect or suspects had at least a 24-hour head start before Peggy was found.
No longer a peaceful place.
“I’m eight months into it and my 12-year-old daughter is having nightmares that`s someone`s breaking into the house to try to kill her,” Anne said.
To say that violent crime in that community is rare would be an understatement.
“It`s everyone`s paradise,” said Anne. “It`s a place where kids ride their bikes, people ride their golf carts, sail together, it`s family friendly.”
In the past, Deltaville has gone years without a single murder. But this neighborhood has dealt with break-ins and squatters, and rumors have circulated that a vagrant could be the killer.
“Being a small community -- we have a lot of people worried about this,” Major Sampson said.
He said the murder of Peggy Lammers is not a cold case and that even though eight months has passed since her murder, detectives are closing that gap.
Sampson understands the family`s frustrations, and said detectives are in constant communication with other agencies that have handled cases like this before.
He said they have also re-submitted evidence to a lab in Florid and expect the results soon.
“My gut says we are going to get somebody -- we are absolutely going to find out what happened to Mrs. Lammers,” Sampson said.
"Somebody knows something," Anne said.
Anne Fergusson said she just hopes an arrest happens soon, because without closure, coping with the death of her sister has been impossible.
“I thought she`d be there forever, and I just really haven`t come to terms with it yet I guess,” she said.
“She was very caring, full of energy, very charismatic, funny girl, had a lot of friends, people loved to be around her,” Anne said.