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2017-12-06 / News

Questions abound in triple homicide

BY BEN ORCUTT CONTRIBUTING WRITER

A week before Thanksgiving, Jeanett L. Gattis gave a couple of neighbors some peppers from her and her husband, Christopher R. Gattis’, garden.

The day after Thanksgiving, those same neighbors realized they would never see Jeanett Gattis again after learning Christopher Gattis had been charged with first-degree murder of his 58-year-old wife, her daughter, Candice L. Kunze, 30, and Kunze’s boyfriend, Andrew E. Buthorn, 36. All three were shot Thanksgiving Day at the Gattis’ home in Chester’s Ashley Forest subdivision.

“My wife, she was really upset and shocked about it,” said the neighbor, who asked not to be identified. “It just came as a complete surprise to us. I would have never thought that he would have been capable of something like that, but you just don’t know.”

Christopher R. GattisChristopher R. GattisGattis, 58, of the 14000 block of Dogwood Ridge Court, is being held without bond at Riverside Regional Jail in Prince George County. He’ll appear in Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court at 9 a.m. on Jan. 30 for first-degree murder and use of a firearm charges in the deaths of his wife and stepdaughter. He is scheduled to appear in General District Court at 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 31 for a preliminary hearing on charges of first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the death of Buthorn.

Arkuie Williams, state administrator for the Office of Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia, said the cause of death for Gattis and Buthorn was a single gunshot wound to the back, and for Kunze, multiple gunshot wounds to the back. Williams said he was not authorized to say if the victims sustained gunshot wounds to other parts of their bodies.

Gattis is being represented by court-appointed attorney John A. Rockecharlie of Chesterfield. Gattis served as middle and high school youth ministries coordinator at Grace Lutheran Church on Harrowgate Road, according to the church’s website.

A memorial service was held at the church on Saturday for Jeanett Gattis and her daughter. An obituary for Jeanett Gattis says she was a graduate of the College of William and Mary, was “full of love an energy” and leaves behind her youngest child, Adam L. Kunze. An obituary for Candice Kunze says she had “an indescribable zest for life and for travel” that she channeled into a profession as a traveling physical therapist.

James Gattis, president of Lighthouse Furniture and Appliance in Petersburg, said he was not at liberty to discuss his brother’s case.

“I can’t answer any questions,” he said. “The lawyer [Rockecharlie] told me not to.”

Questions are all that remain for those baffled by the Thanksgiving Day shootings on Dogwood Ridge Court, including the neighbor who was gifted the peppers a week prior.

“It just came as a shock that it could happen,” he said. “They’ve been active in the church. A lot of times they had people from the church over there, the young people. They had cookouts and games and stuff like that. We never heard any arguments or anything like that.

“I had no idea he had a gun. He just didn’t appear to be a person that would own a gun.” ¦

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