Late Edition: Crime Beat ChroniclesLate Edition: Crime Beat Chronicles

Cloverleaf Mall murders remain unsolved nearly 30 years later

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Late Edition: Crime Beat Chronicles

Late Edition: Crime Beat Chronicles, a product of Lee Enterprises, is a collection of limited anthology style episodes exploring true stories as told  
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The latest episode of Late Edition: Crime Beat Chronicles is centered on the unsolved 1996 stabbing murders of Cheryl Edwards and Charlita Singleton at the Cloverleaf Mall in Richmond, Virginia. In this episode, host Nat Cardona gives an overview of the crimes and the location where they took place.

Episode transcript

Note: The following transcript was created by Adobe Premiere and may contain misspellings and other inaccuracies as it was generated automatically:

If a case isn't solved within the first 72 hours, the chances of solving that crime becomes exponentially lower. The case we're going to start on today is a cold case that's remained unsolved for 27 years. I'm Nat Cardona and welcome to Late Edition Crime Beat Chronicles. In this episode, we take a look at the Cloverleaf Mall murders from November of 1996.

And November 7th, 1996, 25 year old Cheryl Edwards and 36 year old Charlita Singleton were working at the all for one store at Cloverleaf Mark's out of Richmond, Virginia. Early the next day, Charlita's family called the police to report her missing after she failed to return home from work. The two women were found stabbed to death, their bodies discovered in the office at the rear of the store.

Now some background on the mall. Cloverleaf was like so many other malls in that golden age of malls in America. It opened in August of 1972 and was the largest in Richmond, Virginia. 42 stores in over 750,000 square feet of retail space. And again, like so many other malls, and it was anchored by retailers like JCPenney and Sears.

The mall was designed by local architects and featured a center court with a 20 foot pool, crystal trees and falling water. It was named Cloverleaf because of its proximity to the Cloverleaf intersection at Chippenham Parkway and Midlothian Turnpike. Cloverleaf Mall was the place to be. Teens hanging out in common areas on weekends. Movie fans taking in a show at the Multiplex theater and families having lunch.

Any good suburbanites version of downtown. 

Back to November of 1996. By the time the two women were working at the mall, many of Cloverleaf Best customers women with disposable income to spend at the malls. More than 20 women's clothing stores were choosing other malls for their shopping. The then mall manager, Jay LaFleur, said at the time that people were starting to see kids with huge baggy pants and jeans hanging off their belts and people were intimidated.

Details about the double murder are scarce, not surprising for a decades old unsolved murder case. What we do know is that the Singleton family called the police early on November 8th to report that Charlita was missing, and both families met the first patrol officer in the mall parking lot around 5:15 a.m.. Lieutenant Robert Skowron of the Chesterfield County Police, used a key from story management to enter the back door of the All for $1 store.

That door opened from the parking lot into the store's office. When reflecting about the incident, the lieutenant said he felt uneasy as he approached that locked door scar and recalled with both of their vehicles out front. He strongly suspected that foul play was involved. He opened the door and he found Cheryl Edwards and Charlita Singleton's body stabbed multiple times in the safe open, presumably with money missing.

The lieutenant returned to the parking lot to tell the families in the mall was closed for the day so that law enforcement could scour the crime scene in the surrounding areas for evidence. Family members of both women were quickly cleared of suspicion. They only. We need to take a quick break, so don't go too far with you on on.

Investigators believe that the killer or killers seemingly entered through the back door of the store's mall was closing or already close at the time that they approximate the murder to have happened. However, the police were never able to determine a motive. So typical victimology work the understanding that victims tend to know their murderers resulted in zero leads. Investigators dug into both women's backgrounds and weren't able to find any enemies or persons who would want to harm them- no angry spouses or partners, jealous girlfriend or any type of the usual suspects. 

Now back to that empty safe was the motive robbery? If so, why viciously stabbed Singleton and Edwards to death? Could it have been a mall worker or someone who knew their schedules around $20,000 in reward money failed to yield any productive leads, although there were some promising clues at one point in time, a stolen U-Haul from Chattanooga, Tennessee, causing people to hypothesize that maybe it was an out of town robbery, though unlikely for a dollar store type of robbery.

There was that in a man seen running outside of the mall around the presumed time of the murders. Police believe it was soon after the store closed around 9 p.m., but that turned out to be a dead end. So in 1997, a year after the murders, police said that they had no leads. At the time, Singleton and Edwards were killed.

They left behind small kids who were forced to grow up without their mothers. Eight years after the murders and 24 lieutenants score and said the case was getting a fresh look but shared few details. The fallout from the murders is believed to have hastened the closing of the Cloverleaf Mall. Jay LaFleur said at the time that after the tragedy, the national tenants just couldn't get help.

Parents wouldn't want their kids to work there. It was catastrophic. Cloverleaf Mall became the murder mall. And that's where I leave you today. Make sure you hit the subscribe and so you don't miss my interview with Scott Bass of the Times Dispatch. And don't forget to listen to our past episodes of Late Edition Crime Beat Chronicles, a Lee Enterprises podcast.

See you later.


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Late Edition: Crime Beat Chronicles, a product of Lee Enterprises, is a collection of limited anthol 
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