He called the police. He told them he found his mother in a recliner in the front room of the apartment they shared in South Danville — 17 years ago. She was bleeding from a head injury.
Police arrived, investigated and the medical examiner eventually ruled the case a homicide. The cause of death was found to be blunt force trauma.
But the police never made an arrest in the death of Loraine Bessie Womack — until now.
Michael Jamie Womack, Loraine Womack’s son and now the suspect in her killing, was indicted by a Danville Circuit Court grand jury April 29.
Michael Womack, now 39, lived at home and was 22 years old at time of his mother’s death on July 10, 1996.
When a Danville Register & Bee reporter was on the scene July 10, 1996, Michael Womack was talking with neighbors, saying his mother’s death made no sense. At the time, Womack declined to speak on the record with the newspaper reporter about the incident.
Michael Womack has had a number of run-ins with the law, according to the Virginia Courts Case Information website. He’s had traffic violations, misdemeanors and felonies, including possession of cocaine, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and robbery.
In the robbery case, the offense date was listed as July 27, 1996, just 17 days after his mother’s death. On Jan. 28, 1997, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison — with 23 years suspended.
“Womack was in custody with the Virginia Department of Corrections serving a prison sentence for robbery when the indictment was handed down,” according to a Monday news release from the Danville Police Department. “He was transferred to Danville and is currently awaiting trial on this charge.”
At the time of his arrest on the murder charge, Womack was being held in the Powhatan Correctional Center with a projected release date of July 10, 2017.
Neighbors described Loraine Womack as church-going woman who never argued with anyone and sometimes held down more than one job at a time.
“She liked to laugh and joke; she was a good person,” one neighbor, Cheryl Jones, said of Loraine Womack. Jones said she last saw Womack around 1 p.m. the day before her body was found.
Born in Pittsylvania County, Loraine Bessie Womack was a daughter of Wilson Poke and Thelma Miller. She was educated in the county schools and a member of New Hope Apostolic Church.
She was married to Masture Jefferson Womack, and at the time of her death, she was survived by eight children, a stepdaughter, four sisters, 21 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She was buried in Highland Burial Park.