CHARLOTTE, N.C. – State prosecutors are still reviewing materials before determining if they'll seek the death penalty against the Charlotte man accused of torturing his wife and murdering her parents in their home in July.

Vurnel Smith Jr. was arrested on August 1 when he surrendered to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, ending a nearly week-long manhunt. On Thursday, prosecutors said they're still working to determine if the death penalty will be on the table when Smith goes to trial. The case was continued until November 16.

CMPD first learned of the crime while responding to a call at CMC-University on July 27 regarding a woman that was attacked. The victim told police that Smith attacked her and said her parents were in grave danger. Investigators later determined that Smith murdered Jacqueline White-Gordon, 65, and Rufus Gordon, 69, on July 25, two days before the surviving victim alerted police.


“She physically is going to be OK. Mentally, emotionally, this is something she’s going to have to work through and live with the rest of her life,” said one CMPD official.

Police made the shocking discovery of Rufus Gordon’s body in the trunk of the car driven to the hospital by his daughter. White-Gordon’s body was found inside the couple’s home on Red Clay Lane in north Charlotte. Members of the community were relieved when Smith was taken into custody.

“I feel a little safer,” said one neighbor. “My family can breathe easily now. The kids were afraid, my wife was afraid.”

Smith is facing several charges in connection with the incident, including two counts of murder, as well as felony forcible rape. If convicted, Smith could face 12 years to life on both murder charges and 12 years to life for rape. During his first court appearance, a judge denied Smith bond, saying he was too big of a threat to be in the community.

In 2015, Smith was arrested in Kannapolis for allegedly breaking into a home and raping the victim.