Double murder suspect captured

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 9, 2005

GATESVILLE – The manhunt was short lived for a Gates County teenager wanted for the murder of his step-grandparents.

Michael Chadwick &uot;Chad&uot; Geddings was taken into custody at around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday as he exited a Virginia Beach, Va. convenience store near the oceanfront.

According to Gates County Sheriff Edward Webb, the teen was arrested without incident.

Geddings became the subject of a two-state manhunt shortly past 2 p.m. on Tuesday after his step-grandparents – Charles and Phyllis Dennis, both age 63 – were found shot to death in their Sawyer Road home near the Reynoldson community in the northern part of Gates County.

At first, the teen was sought as a &uot;person of interest&uot; in the case, but by late in the afternoon on Wednesday, Sheriff Webb had warrants issued for Geddings’ arrest on two counts of murder in the first degree.

Webb said he and two agents with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation left for Virginia Beach around midnight on Wednesday. He added the two SBI agents conducted the interview with Geddings at the Virginia Beach Police Department’s Operations Center while he watched on a closed circuit TV.

&uot;Mr. Geddings looked very tired and very weathered,&uot; Webb said. &uot;You could tell he hadn’t had a lot of sleep and probably hadn’t had a lot to eat. He took a couple of deep breaths and got off his chest what he wanted to say. It was a very productive interview.&uot;

Webb said Geddings appeared before a Virginia Beach District Court Judge on Thursday morning and waived extradition. The Sheriff went on to say that two members of his staff arrived in Virginia Beach at around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday at which time they obtained all the evidence collected from a 1999 Ford Explorer belonging to the murder victims, one allegedly driven by Geddings to Virginia Beach. They also transported Geddings back to Gates County.

Webb said Geddings made no statement once returning to North Carolina. He appeared before a Gates County Magistrate and was ordered to be held without bond. The teen then appeared before the Gates County Clerk of Court in order to set the date for his first court appearance.

Due to his age, Geddings was also appointed an attorney. He was then taken to the Chowan County Jail.

Sheriff Webb said no date has yet been set for a probable cause hearing. He is hopeful that legal matter will take place soon in order to have the case before the Grand Jury within the next two months.

According to Webb, all evidence processed from the murder scene as well as that found in the vehicle, including what is believed to be the murder weapon (discovered a short distance from the vehicle as it sat parked at a recreational center in Kempsville, near Virginia Beach) will be processed by the SBI Crime Lab in Raleigh.

&uot;The ballistics tests on the recovered handgun will take over a month to complete,&uot; Webb noted. &uot;Once that report is finalized, one of the key elements of this case will fall into place.&uot;

A home care nurse found the victims at approximately 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. 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. Shell casings from a handgun were found in the residence.

The teen’s father, Michael Thomas Geddings (who resides with his son next door to Mr. and Mrs. Dennis) 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 the Kempsville recreation center.

&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.&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.

&uot;I was really proud of the working relationship between all the agencies involved in this case,&uot; Webb said. &uot;I’m especially proud of my guys here in Gates County. They pitched in and assisted with duties they normally do not handle. And I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the public for stopping and inquiring of things they could do to help us. This was a team effort.&uot;