Virginia Families, Town in Mourning After Shootings
Murder suspect Christopher Speight, center, is led out of State Police headquarters in Appomattox, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010. Speight is accused of killing eight people and leading police on an overnight manhunt. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
January 22, 2010
APPOMATTOX, Va. — Jonathan Quarles was the kind of guy who took in flying squirrels and turtles, then released them back to the wild. The kind of guy who gathered clothes and furniture for strangers when their house burned down.
Wife Karen often craved the Corner Grill’s “Cheesy Western,” a burger topped with a fried egg. And their 15-year-old daughter Emily had a new boyfriend, 16-year-old Bo Scruggs, who tangled with his mother over how long to wear his hair.
They weren’t related to 39-year-old security guard Christopher Bryan Speight. Nor were they part of the dispute – real or imagined – that he had with his sister over a sprawling, 34-acre Appomattox estate the siblings had inherited.
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Speight is jailed on one count of murder and likely to face more charges in the Tuesday morning rampage that killed all eight at the quiet country homestead he shared with 37-year-old Lauralee, her 38-year-old husband Dwayne Sipe and their children, Morgan Dobyns and Joshua Sipe.
Relatives and people who knew Speight say he had a history of mental breakdowns and may have become fixated on the notion that his sister wanted to oust him from the house passed down to them by their grandparents and mother. The family lawyer, however, says her intention was exactly the opposite: She planned to deed the property solely to him.
Police say Speight killed his victims, then fired on a police helicopter, escaped into the woods and held officers at bay for 18 hours before surrendering.
He had struggled since his mother died from brain cancer in 2006, said uncle Thomas Giglio. Speight’s father had abandoned them some 30 years ago, and he and his mother were very close.
“He didn’t take it good at all,” Giglio said. “I don’t think he ever reconciled it.”
Crime scene tape surrounds a home that was the scene of a shooting in Appomattox, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010. Officers captured Christopher Speight, who is accused of killing eight people and leading police on an overnight manhunt. (AP Photo/Steve Helb
Giglio said Dwayne Sipe found him in a motel room along a highway. Even then the family had no reason to suspect Speight might turn violent. Giglio said he last spoke to Dwayne Sipe the Saturday before the shootings and everything seemed fine.