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2017-11-29 / News

Triple homicide stuns Chester

Some recall Gattises as hospitable, ‘great neighbors’
BY BEN ORCUTT CONTRIBUTING WRITER


The Gattises’ home on Dogwood Ridge Court. The Gattises’ home on Dogwood Ridge Court. Less than 48 hours after flashing lights and police officers filled the 14000 block of Dogwood Ridge Court, neighbors in the Ashley Forest subdivision in Chester were still trying to come to grips with a harsh reality – a Thanksgiving Day triple homicide, right next door.

The scene was gruesome: Upon arriving at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, officers found Andrew E. Buthorn, 36, deceased in the front yard, and Jeanett L. Gattis, 58, and Candice L. Kunze, 30, deceased inside the home. All three suffered gunshot wounds.

The suspect, Christopher R. Gattis, 58, was inside the home when police arrived. He was arrested without incident.

All three victims and the suspect lived at the Ashley Forest home. Police are investigating the homicides as domestic related. Jeanett Gattis is the wife of the suspect. Kunze is the daughter of Jeanett Gattis, and Buthorn was Kunze’s boyfriend, according to police.


Christopher R. Gattis Christopher R. Gattis Larry Patton and his wife, Denise, have lived across the street from the Gattises for 18 months.

“They welcomed us to the neighborhood,” Patton said. “They’re hospitable, great neighbors. I didn’t notice anything going on [Thanksgiving night] until I looked out and saw all the blue lights as far as I could see down the street. I saw the forensics car in front of the house and I said, ‘This is not good,’ and I was going to stay out of the way.”

Patton, 63, said he discovered what occurred after checking out a local TV station’s website.

“Chris has always been a great neighbor,” Patton said. “I’m just sorry for whatever happened to him and I’m just waiting for the story to come out. There had to be something that triggered it. Couldn’t have asked for a better neighbor.”

It was his understanding, Patton said, that Kunze and Buthorn were preparing to move to Georgia. Patton said Jeanett Gattis also has a son who lives in Los Angeles.

The Gattises graduated from Colonial Heights High School in 1977, Patton added.

“They reconnected at a high school reunion,” he said.

Patton said Buthorn’s body lay in the front yard all night. The two women were found inside the home.

“I understand that was not a pretty sight,” Patton said. “They’re … just cleaning it up today.”

Jeanett Gattis worked as a receptionist for Napier Realtors in Powhatan and made no secret that she carried a gun, Denise Patton said. Christopher Gattis serves as middle and high school youth ministries coordinator at Grace Lutheran Church on Harrowgate Road, according to the church’s website.

A receptionist at the church said church officials weren’t available for comment on Monday, and referred a reporter to a statement posted on its website:

“Members of Grace Lutheran Church are deeply saddened by the loss of life Thursday night as a result of three individuals being shot in Chester and this tragedy included members of Grace Lutheran Church. Grace Lutheran Church has experienced many hardships over the years, but this heartbreak has unique challenges. Grace Lutheran Church asks for the prayers from the community as our congregation begins the process of addressing the grief being experienced by everyone involved.”

On Saturday, Mark and Melissa Anderson drove 45 minutes from their home in West Point to place a bouquet of flowers on the Gattises’ front yard.

Melissa Anderson, 36, said she and her husband and their boys lived across the street from the Gattises for nine years before moving to West Point in 2013.

“She was a wonderful neighbor to have and this was our first house that we ever bought,” Melissa Anderson said, fighting back tears.

Mark Anderson, 42, indicated that it did not come as a total shock when he and his wife found out that Gattis was charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm during the commission of a felony for each of the three slayings.

“Most of the time when we saw him he was perfectly fine,” Mark Anderson said, adding that “the police have been out to the house before. I think he had internal battles.” Online records for Chesterfield General District Court show that Gattis was charged with profanely cursing/ public intoxication in 2010, with the charge waived after he prepaid a $25 fine and $82 in court costs.

Online Chesterfield Circuit Court records indicate that Gattis appealed a 2012 misdemeanor assault and battery charge from General District Court and the case was dismissed.

Michael Brown II, 24, who has lived with his parents in the neighborhood for 12 years, said he heard a loud noise Thanksgiving night and then came to the front of the house to see police down the street.

“We were just watching through the window,” Brown said. “It’s mind blowing. First off, that’s so close to home, and then such nice people. It’s something backwards … you know. That’s what I really get from it, just mind blowing.”

Eric Robinson, 50, who has lived on Dogwood Ridge Court for eight years, said he didn’t find out what happened until friends called inquiring about the shootings Friday morning.

“Something was deep-rooted with the gentleman [Gattis] to want to go to that extreme,” Robinson said. “So I guess it was lack of counseling. I know he was a youth minister and stuff, but maybe he just had something that he couldn’t talk to somebody about.

“We pray for the family. We pray for the families and the people who’ve been affected. … It’s a tragedy right here on our street and we’re not really accustomed to stuff like that. It’s usually pretty quiet.”

Gattis is being held at the Chesterfield County Jail. The case remains under investigation and anyone with information can contact Chesterfield Police at 748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 748-0660. ¦

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