Virginia Youth Pastor Charged With 1st Degree Murder in Thanksgiving Day Triple Homicide

Reuters/Shannon StapletonNYPD crime scene tape is seen at the site of a shooting at the corner of Marcus Garvey Blvd. and Pulaski Street in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

A Virginia youth pastor has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of his wife, stepdaughter, and stepdaughter's boyfriend on Thanksgiving Day and is now in being held in jail.

In an incident police are calling a domestic in nature, Christopher Gattis, 58, shot and killed his wife Jeanett Gattis, 58; her daughter Candice Kunze, 30; and Andrew Buthorn, 36, Kunze's boyfriend, at the home near Richmond that they shared with Gattis just before 11:30 p.m. Thursday night, Yahoo News reported Sunday. The women were found dead in the home; Buthorn's body was found in the yard.

Gattis, who is a youth pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Chester, Virginia has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is now being held at Chesterfield County jail without bond. He will appear in General District Court on Monday and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court on Tuesday.

"Members of Grace Lutheran Church are deeply saddened by the loss of life last night as a result of three individuals being shot in Chester, and this tragedy included members of Grace Lutheran Church," the church said in a statement on its website.

"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."

Residents of Gattis' neighborhood are surprised.

"We were all friends. We hang out sometimes [and] cook out in the back," Mike Brown, neighbor to Gattis, told the Richmond-area CBS affiliate.

"I mean every time I see them, they're always the same way. [I] had no clue that they were having problems that I knew of, but behind closed doors is behind closed doors."

Neighbor Larry Patton, who lives across the street from the Gattis home, described the family in Friday's Richmond Times-Dispatch as "good people." When he and his wife moved into the neighborhood two years ago the Gattis family welcomed them, and the neighbors often shared meals together.

"He'd do anything for you. He was always quick to laugh. He had a hearty laugh," Patton recalled of Mr. Gattis, the youth pastor. 

The neighbors told reporters that approximately six weeks ago Candice had moved back home from Oregon and brought her boyfriend along with her.

Gattis' Facebook page listed Grace Lutheran Church as his employer since 2014.

Police say that their investigation into the triple murder is ongoing.

Follow Brandon Showalter on Facebook: BrandonMarkShowalter

Follow Brandon Showalter on Twitter: @BrandonMShow