Convicted felon found guilty in sexual assault case from 1992 in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach

Ronny Jernigan (Photo Courtesy – Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A convicted felon in Florida has been found guilty in a sexual assault case from 1992 in Virginia Beach.

On Wednesday, 65-year-old Ronny L. Jernigan was found guilty by a jury on charges of forcible sodomy, abduction with intent to defile, and robbery.

The conviction stems from a cold case from 1992 that went unsolved until 2016.

On November 6, 1992, a 21-year-old woman left a Video Express store near the intersection of Wesleyan Drive and Newtown Road and was walking to her car when Jernigan grabbed her from behind, held a knife to her throat, and forced her into the car. 

While holding the knife in his right hand, Jernigan drove the woman to a dark parking lot nearby and sexually assaulted her, then kicked her out of the car and drove away.

The victim ran to a nearby house for help and called the police. She then went to the hospital, where forensic evidence was collected as part of a Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK). The evidence was taken to the police department where it was secured until it could be sent out for testing.

24 years later, in November of 2016, a new method of DNA testing created a DNA profile from the 1992 sample. The profile was run through the Virginia and National DNA Databanks which matched the profile of Ronny Jernigan.

Ronny Jernigan (Photo Courtesy – Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach)

At that time, Jernigan was incarcerated in Florida on a robbery charge. Police got a search warrant for Jernigan’s DNA and sent it to DFS for testing. The DNA profile from the victim’s PERK kit confirmed a match to Ronny Jernigan.

His sentencing date is set for December 13.

According to court documents, Jernigan had a lengthy record that dates back to 1975 in multiple states. 

His prior convictions include homicide-manslaughter, aggravated assault with a weapon, two counts of armed robbery, 5 counts of robbery, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of Marijuana and larceny.

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