Gregory Joyner

Victim: Sarah Jamison, 15

Age at time of murder: 16

Crime date: May 15, 1988

Crime location: Lynchburg

Convictions: Attempted rape and first-degree murder

Murder method: Strangulation

Sentence: Life plus 10 years (with parole eligibility)

Incarceration status: Released on April 2

Gov. Northam addresses parole board decision to release convicted murderer  Gregory Joyner


Joyner was convicted of the first-degree murder and attempted rape of his high school classmate Sarah. The medical examiner determined that Sarah likely had been raped, due to the bruises on her body and the position of her body. Joyner told police that he killed Sarah after the two had consensual sex.

Joyner was denied parole twice due to his “extensive criminal record, history of violence, and release at the time would diminish the serious nature of the offense.” In November 2020, he was granted parole by a new board. He was officially released on April 2. The parole of Sarah’s murderer has resulted in severe distress for her family.


Victim’s family unhappy about parole approval for 1988 killer of Lynchburg girl

Photo of Sarah Jamison, killed in Lynchburg in 1988

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7/Commonwealth’s Attorney Release) – The man convicted of killing a girl in Lynchburg in 1988 will be released on parole.

Gregory Joyner, now 48, was convicted by a jury in 1989 of the first-degree murder and attempted rape of Sarah Jamison, and sentenced to life plus ten years in prison. Jamison was 15 at the time; Joyner was 16.

Joyner admitted he strangled Jamison to death after, he claimed, he had consensual sex with her, according to the Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. He then buried her body in a wooded area near her parents’ home. Her remains were found two weeks later.

Photo of Sarah Jamison, killed in Lynchburg in 1988

Joyner was denied parole in 2017 and 2019 due to his “extensive criminal record, history of violence, and release at the time would diminish the serious nature of his offenses.” Parole was granted in November 2020 by new Virginia Parole Board membership.

Upon hearing of the parole decision, Dell Jamison, Sarah’s father, said, “When Joyner murdered Sarah it was for life. Why should he be released after only serving a part of his life? His sentence was for punishment, not rehabilitation; therefore he still has 30 or 40 years left on his sentence. His release is a big mistake. He is also a registered sex offender. If he was sentenced today, he would never get out of prison. Joyner has not expressed remorse to my knowledge. When he was photographed going to trial for the murder and rape of Sarah, he smiled and said ‘get my good side.’ He needs to stay in prison for the good of the community.”

Jamison’s sister Renee Knight, brother-in-law Jeff Knight, and niece Jessica Collins issued a joint statement: “The recent decision to grant parole to Greg Joyner has come as a heart-shattering blow to our family. When he took my sister Sarah from us, we thought that justice would be done when he was placed behind bars. It is with heartbreaking remorse that we hear he will soon be released from prison. We cannot put into words the amount of pain, suffering, and unending grief he has caused our family. Not a day goes past that we do not think of the amazing woman Sarah would have become. He had robbed us of a lifetime of memories and relationships we will now never get to have. To think, now, the man who stole all of this from us will be set free is a grave injustice to her memory.”

“After my sister was murdered, there was a major effect on our lives,” said Sarah’s other sister, Stacey Gallier. “I watched my parents crying, having to take prescriptions to try and face another day without their daughter. I would replay in my mind the last time I saw her, never being able to get that day back. Hearing about Gregory Joyner being let out of jail because he has been rehabilitated is like a punch in the stomach! Why does he deserve to live a normal life when he literally took my sister’s life? Just because she didn’t want to be with him the way he wanted!”

“How did the parole board come up with the decision that this rapist and murderer has been rehabilitated?” asked Darrel Gallier, Jamison’s brother-in-law. “When you have an individual that lures a 15-year-old girl from her home in the middle of the night, rapes her, strangles the life out of her, and buries her in a shallow grave in the woods beside her home (not to be found for almost 3 weeks) and when he was caught was found with different girls’ panties between the mattress in his bedroom, he is a danger to the young girls and should never get the chance to do this again to another young lady. He is a predator and I do not see any rehabilitation for that kind of behavior. I have a close relative that is in prison right now on marijuana charges and has already served 4 years out of 6 years and there is no talk about giving him early parole, but we can let murderers back out on the street. This is just nonsense.”

Mugshot of Gregory Joyner, granted parole after serving prison time for the 1988 murder of...

“My heart goes out to Sarah’s family, as they have been forced into a lifetime of reliving the pain and trauma that Gregory Joyner caused them,” said Bethany Harrison, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Lynchburg. “They experienced the rigors of trial and were granted some relief at his conviction and sentence to life in prison. Now the family must experience a new trauma. That is knowing that at 48 years old, Joyner will once again be free to walk the streets of the Commonwealth while they will never enjoy the company of their loved one again.

“A life sentence should have given this family the closure they deserved,” continued Harrison. “Instead, a wound has been reopened by the Virginia Parole Board. We will never know the reasons why the Virginia Parole Board granted Joyner parole as they are not required to give the public reasons for the release of a murderer. Given the multitude of problems victims of crime have suffered at the hands of this parole board this year, transparency and accountability are needed.”

Man who killed Sarah Jamison to be released in April on supervised probation

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) — A man convicted of killing a Lynchburg teenager will soon be out on parole.

According to Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Lynchburg, Bethany Harrison, 49-year-old Gregory Joyner is set to be released on parole on April 2.

Joyner, who was 17-years-old at the time, was convicted of the first-degree murder and attempted rape of 15-year-old Sarah Jamison.

Harrison said he will be under supervised probation in the Petersburg area. There is also a condition that he cannot be in Lynchburg.

“So if he is in Lynchburg it’s not a violation where officers can come and arrest him right away,” Harrison said. “But if someone should see him report that to my office, don’t confront him, just report it to our office. We can notify probation and parole in his district.”

Harrison said she agrees this is a good condition.

“We have information he still has family in the Lynchburg area so I’m very glad they put that term into his parole,” Harrison said. “The surviving family members are glad that is a term. That gives them some sense of comfort.”

However, Harrison does not agree that Joyner should be granted early parole.

“Releasing someone from prison who has 6 months left on a grand larceny charge is one thing,” Harrison said. “When you start paroling people who are violent murderers, really the worst of the worst is who they are letting out. It is really baffling as to why these are the people being released.”

Joyner admitted that he strangled Jamison to death on May 15, 1988, after he claimed he had consensual sex with her. He then buried her body in a wooded area near her parents’ home. Sarah’s remains were found two weeks after the killing. Joyner was sentenced to life plus 10 years in prison on June 9, 1989.

“Joyner has never publicly expressed remorse or sorrow for what he did to Sarah,” Harrison said. “As a matter of fact, I read through the transcripts of his interviews with police officers from the late 80s. He said he doesn’t feel remorse, or emotion or sadness like normal people. It really was quite chilling to go back and read those transcripts.”

In December of 2020, when Jamison’s family learned about Joyner’s parole they wanted Gov. Ralph Northam to reverse this decision.

“When Joyner murdered Sarah it was for life. Why should he be released after only serving a part of his life? His sentence was for punishment not rehabilitation therefore he still has 30 or 40 years left on his sentence. His release is a big mistake,” said Dell Jamison, Sarah’s father.

See the attached emails for correspondence between ABC13, the Parole Board Chairman and the Governor’s Office on the decision of Joyner’s parole release below or here.


A jury in Alexandria convicted a Lynchburg, Va., teen-ager yesterday of attempted rape and first-degree murder in the strangulation of a 15-year-old girl. Gregory A. Joyner, 17, had told police in a a statement that he killed Sarah Jayne Jamison after she willingly had sex with him last May 15, then buried her body in a wooded area near her parents’ home. Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney William Petty, who prosecuted the case, had sought a capital murder conviction against Joyner, which could have resulted in the death penalty. But lack of evidence of rape may have influenced the jury’s convictions on lesser charges, Petty said. Joyner, who was 16 at the time of the slaying, faces possible life imprisonment on the murder conviction and a 10-year sentence for attempted rape. The defendant broke down in tears near the conclusion of the three-day trial, which was moved to Alexandria because of pretrial publicity in the Lynchburg area. Jamison’s body was found two weeks after her disappearance, buried in a pile of leaves and debris. In his opening statement Monday, the prosecutor said police investigators and medical examiners were unable to find any physical evidence leading them to Jamison’s killer because of the decomposed state of the body. Petty said the medical examiner determined by bruises on Jamison’s body and its position that she probably had been raped. Petty said police were led to Joyner, a high school classmate of Jamison’s, after reading an entry in Jamison’s diary mentioning him.