Update: Sheriff seeks motive in Burke County tragedy

Update: Sheriff seeks motive in Burke County tragedy

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by GLENN COUNTS / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @GCountsWCNC

WCNC.com

Posted on March 13, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Updated Thursday, Mar 13 at 8:01 PM

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. -- Before 38-year-old Troy Whisnant was shot and killed, he went on a crime spree that resulted in the loss of four lives, including his own.

"There was evidence at the home that he was abusing drugs there, crack cocaine," said Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisnant.

Deputies say Whisnant killed his parents Ronda and Levi sometime over the weekend, beginning with his father. The sheriff’s office held a press conference Thursday morning to discuss the case.

"He was doing some work on a chair. We think he was shot in the basement. It appears the step-mother came downstairs to see what was going on and she was shot in the back," said the sheriff.

Deputies believe Whisnant continued to live in the home for days with the bodies of his parents in the basement.

Early Wednesday morning, investigators say the suspect went on a crime spree, stealing several cars and breaking into a neighbor’s home.

That's where he stole the shotgun that was used to kill Ranger Jason Crisp.

Whisnant wrecked a couple of the cars he stole, one of which at a scene on Highway 181 near KC's convenient store.

Security camera footage shows him walking in and buying a pack of cigarettes.

"He asked for cigarettes. He acted like any other customer -- calm, cool, collected; things could have really gone wrong. He could have done something to hurt me or another customer," said Rhiannon Conner, the clerk who was on duty at the time.

Whisnant was just a few minutes ahead of investigators; troopers reviewed the footage and realized he was the man behind the accidents.

Around that same time, a co-worker of Ronda's called to asked deputies to go by the house because she had never missed work before.

That's when deputies found the bodies and investigators realized the cases were connected.

"We knew they had some problems we knew his character, his reputation that was one of the reasons he became a person of interest very quickly," said the Sheriff.

Deputies say Whisnant stole another vehicle behind the store and had another accident, hitting a DOT vehicle on Highway 181, and continued to drive away.

They located that truck off Old Table Rock Road and began to track him.

Ranger Crisp and his K-9 were one of the first officers to arrive. Deputies say that he was ambushed.

"I think he was hiding behind a tree and the officer came by and never had a chance to respond," said Whisenant.

Both Crisp and his K-9 were killed. Deputies say they were shot with a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with double odd buck.

A couple of hours later three officers tracked Whisnant down and he allegedly chose not to surrender.

"Officers issued commands he shot at the officers, they returned fire striking him several times," said the sheriff.

Police don’t yet know the suspect’s motives.

The FBI is handling the investigation of the shooting of Jason Crisp because he was a federal officer. 

 

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