Unsolved: Newport News man found dead in trunk, but how did he get there?

Posted at 2:32 PM, Nov 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-10 23:29:50-05

YORK COUNTY, Va. - For the better part of three decades, Capt. Troy Lyons has been involved in the investigation of every murder in the county, but there is one that is different than the others.

Aaron Lamont Smalls

"Right now, it's the only unsolved homicide in my career and I would love to bring this case to a resolution," he said.

The case he's talking about all began in February of 2001. Aaron Smalls, nicknamed "Peanut," wound up dead in the truck of an apartment complex in Williamsburg. How Smalls got there is still a mystery.

"Since 2013, we haven't received any tips or information about Smalls' deaths," Lyons said.

The case presents lots of challenges. First off, Capt. Lyons says Smalls was involved in drugs. "Folks that are involved in that type of activity are associated are reluctant to come forward," he said. Secondly, whoever killed Smalls wiped the car clean. "We're running into brick walls."

Investigators say Smalls was 25 years old and grew up in the Philadelphia area, but was living in Newport News. On January 24, 2001, he told his brother he was going to Williamsburg after he added minutes to his cell phone. Later that day, he was spotted at Dodge's Fried Chicken in Newport News.

For about two weeks, no one saw Smalls. Then on February 6, 2001, staff at the Country Club Apartments called the Sheriff's Office to report a suspicious vehicle. A 1984 Chevrolet

Celebrity had been parked there for days. It turns out the car belonged to Smalls' girlfriend who came to pick it up. When she opened the trunk, she found Smalls. He'd been shot in the chest and dumped in the trunk.

1984 Chevrolet Celebrity

"I do know that when we found him he was wearing house slippers," Lyons said. "One those slippers was never recovered."

Through the years, investigators have interviewed several people and even looked for the gun in nearby sewers, but they've never made an arrest.

"Some people might say if he was involved in the drug trade or he was dealing drugs or he was buying drugs, what's the significance of it?" Lyons said. "We look at it as regardless of the lifestyle he led he's the victim of a crime in this particular case and our goal is to find the person who murdered Aaron Smalls and bring that person to justice."

Anyone with information is asked call the Crime Line 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.