A 16-year-old who has been charged with murder in the April 2 death of 87-year-old Bensley resident Bryan H. Walker had his initial court date in Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court last week.
An April 16 report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch identified the youth as Raphael Angel Vargas, whom a next-door neighbor of Walker’s said lived two doors down from Walker on Wentworth Street.
The daily newspaper said Vargas faces nine charges, including the first-degree murder and robbery of Walker. Vargas also faces five counts of petit larceny from a Dollar General store, possession of marijuana and underage possession of tobacco, all unrelated to Walker’s death.
On April 16, substitute judge Peter Eliades granted a defense request to have a mental health professional evaluate Vargas, the RTD reports. A status hearing was scheduled for May 21.
Chester native Sara Shelton – who said Walker lived next to her for about eight years in a home formerly owned by her great-aunt – said Walker told her that Vargas was a bad kid. “Those types of things were rare out of Bryan’s mouth,” she said, adding that the only other time she heard him talk negatively about someone was when a distant relative stole his red Ford Ranger, which was later found in Georgia. “[Walker] was a lovable guy and would talk to anyone and everyone,” Shelton said.
Shelton – who has lived on Wentworth Street for 11 years – said she never talked with Vargas, but did talk to his mother, Maria. Shelton said the two lived in a small house [6706 Wentworth], and that a man named John who had lived between them and Walker, provided child care for Vargas until John died Oct. 22 of last year. Chesterfield real estate records show Maria Milagro Nolasco as the owner of 6706 Wentworth, a one-story home with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and the John A. Eddins Estate as owner of 6712 Wentworth.
The state medical examiner’s office determined that Walker died of blunt force injuries to his head, the RTD reported.
Shelton said police told her that Walker was beaten to death. “His head was so beaten in, police originally thought he was shot in the head,” she said.
Writing in crayon
Shelton added that police said that “MS-13” was written in crayon on a wall of the kitchen in Walker’s home, which is also where his body was found. However, police said that is not how the Mara Salvatrucha gang typically operates, she said, adding that police believe Vargas was either trying to throw them off or that he was a gang member wannabe. MS-13 typically uses a machete to kill, writes messages in blood and doesn’t typically go after elderly people, she said, citing police.
“This has really negatively impacted our neighborhood,” Shelton said. “Despite living close to Jefferson Davis Highway, this is a very quiet neighborhood.”
“It’s important to keep Bryan’s name alive,” she added. “He dedicated his life to this neighborhood and Chesterfield. He’s the reason we have a park at the end of our neighborhood.” Bensley Park is located where Wentworth Street ends at Drewrys Bluff Road.
Shelton said Walker “did all the research for Falling Creek Ironwood Park,” which is set for a heritage day celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at 6407 Jefferson Davis Highway in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the ironworks’ founding.
“This kid (Vargas) basically robbed this community and Chesterfield of a man who was doing great things,” Shelton said, adding that a neighbor saw Vargas running from Walker’s house in the early morning hours of April 2.
Shelton said she could not think of why Vargas would rob Walker. Other than his three vehicles – a red Oldsmobile convertible that was his “pride and joy,” a white MG convertible and a Buick that was his “daily driver” – the most valuable thing Walker owned was his TV, Shelton said.
A woman who has lived on Wentworth Street for 10 years and did not want to be identified said Walker was “really sweet” and helped her find her Chihuahua mix dog one night. It took them 15 minutes, but they found it, she said.
David Johnson – who has lived on Wentworth for only two years – called it a “nice neighborhood.”
The Village News sent an email to deputy commonwealth’s attorney Ambrosia Mosby about Vargas, but received no response.