Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp is doing his best to put aside his emotions to continue working on a grim case unlike any he has seen in his 33 years of work in law enforcement.
Four elderly people, ages 67 to 88, were playing cards around a table when their home was invaded. Tripp found all of them dead on Monday after a relative called police. All were shot multiple times, still around the kitchen table, ABC reported.
“I knew two of these people personally,” Tripp said. “In my 33 years of law enforcement, this is my first quadruple murder.”
Two of the dead were homeowners Janice Harris, 72, and James Harris, 88. The other two were their friends, James Whitley, 76, and Peggy Whitley, 67.
Tripp discovered the bodies inside the home on Fishing Creek Road in the Glenview community, where the victims were longtime residents.
“All four victims were members of this community and well-known, and well thought of. You put your emotions aside and you work the case,” Tripp said.
Investigators working the scene believe some items are missing, but there do not seem to be any signs of struggle.
“We do have indications a robbery did take place,” Tripp said.
Authorities believe the home was invaded between Sunday and Monday morning. Detectives have some leads after interviewing people in the neighborhood.
James Harris, one of the victims, ran a gunsmith business from his home, according to the sheriff and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) records, WNCN reported.
J and J Gunsmithing was a licensed firearm business registered at Harris’ home where the killing occurred.
The sheriff would not confirm what was stolen from the home, but ATF has now joined the investigation.
“Jim was known to have a ready gun,” neighbor Matt Cousins told ABC.
“They seem to have had prior knowledge of something being in there,” he added about the suspects. “I don’t think they just drove by and randomly kicked the door in and said hey let’s see what’s here. They probably had a good idea of what was in there.”
When one of the victims did not show up for work, one of her granddaughters went to the home and found the bodies, Cousins added.
The sheriff is warning the residents to be cautious until the suspects are caught.
“Since (Monday), we have taken a major turn in our investigation. But we’re still not at liberty right now to discuss that,” Tripp said. “Right now, I’m not going to tip my hand to these low-life cowards that committed these crimes.”
An $11,000 reward is available for information leading to the arrests for those responsible for the quadruple murder.