Teen sought in grandparent’s deaths

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 7, 2005

A Gates County man and his wife are dead and the couple’s 17-year-old step-grandson is being sought in connection with the double homicide that occurred Tuesday afternoon.

Gates County Sheriff Edward Webb said late yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon that warrants have been drawn for the arrest of Michael Chadwick &uot;Chad&uot; Geddings. The teen is wanted on two counts of murder in the first degree.

The victims are Charles and Phyllis Dennis, both age 63. Webb said an autopsy performed in Greenville revealed the couple died of gunshot wounds.

The sheriff confirmed a handgun has been recovered, but it not known if that is the weapon used in the double homicide. He said ballistics tests would be performed on the weapon.

Webb also said shell casings were discovered in the Dennis home, a neatly kept modular unit located at 72 Sawyer Road near the Reynoldson community in northern Gates County.

According to the sheriff, Geddings is 5′-7&uot;, weighing approximately 124 pounds with strawberry blonde hair. The teen was last seen in the Virginia Beach, Va. area driving a white Dodge pick-up truck.

Webb along with agents of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and law enforcement officials across the Hampton Roads area of Virginia are currently looking into the chain of events preceding and following Tuesday’s double murder.

The victims were found at approximately 2:30 p.m. Tuesday by a home care nurse. She had gone to the home to attend to surgical dressings for Charles Dennis, who had surgery last week. Webb said the nurse had telephoned the couple at around 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Apparently, everything was fine at that point.

When the nurse discovered the bodies, she immediately phoned 911 and Sheriff Webb and Chief Deputy Billy Spruill responded to the scene. There, they found Charles Dennis in a living room recliner while Phyllis Dennis was on the floor in the den/dining room area.

According to Webb, the slain couple’s 1999 Ford Explorer was also missing from the residence, as was Geddings, who resides next door. That prompted Webb to initially classify list Geddings as a &uot;person of interest&uot; in the case.

The teen’s father, Michael Thomas Geddings (who resides with his son) put out a plea on Wednesday afternoon for his son to turn himself in to authorities. The son of the victims, Michael Dennis, also spoke to the media, echoing the plea of Mr. Geddings.

In the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, the couple’s vehicle was discovered at a recreational center in Kempsville, near Virginia Beach, Va.

&uot;Someone had attempted to disguise the Explorer by altering the color with spray paint and by changing the license plate,&uot; said Webb. &uot;Virginia Beach police were able to identify it as the vehicle belonging to the victims through the VIN number. Because the vehicle was found in that area, Virginia Beach police and most of Tidewater’s law enforcement are assisting us in this investigation.&uot;

Sheriff Webb added that Virginia Beach Police had interviewed two young Virginia Beach men, both claiming to have spent the night talking with Geddings.

Additionally, Webb said several items were taken from the Dennis residence, including a credit card. The sheriff confirmed that the credit card was used on Wednesday in the Virginia Beach area.

According to the sheriff, Geddings was already a person known to Virginia Beach Police for minor crimes committed in that area. He added that the Geddings/Dennis family had moved to Gates County approximately two and one-half to three years ago.

This is the first double homicide in Gates County since the murders of a woman and her daughter, who were operating a store at Corner High in the Eure community, back in the early 1990’s. The Gates County Sheriff’s Office and the SBI also investigated those slayings and brought to justice a truck driver who remains in prison.