Murder suspect arrested

Published 1:09 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2017


HALIFAX – Matthew Simms, an Enfield man already facing a December court date for a 2015 murder, has been charged in the murders of four elderly people in the Glenview community on Aug. 20.

Matthew Simms

Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp confirmed Simms, 25, was served the warrants for the four murders at the detention center in Halifax where he is in custody on a $500,000 bond for skipping a June court date for the 2015 murder of Jarshamel Cambridge in Enfield.

He was taken into custody for failure to appear in the Cambridge case in September, nearly a month after the Glenview murders.

Other than confirming Simms was served the warrants for the murders of James and Janice Harris and James and Peggy Whitley, Tripp declined elaboration on details of the case as it remains under investigation.

“We continue to work diligently on this case,” he said.

The four murder counts means he remains in jail with the condition now of no opportunity for bond.

Tripp, who said in a previous statement the murders of the four elderly people was gang-related, would not confirm Simms was a gang member. He declined to confirm whether the motive of the case was specifically to rob Harris, a retired gunsmith, of weapons.

In past statements the sheriff has said items of value were missing from the residence and the motive is robbery.

The four were shot through a glass door while they sat playing cards at the dining room table. All the victims died at the table after they were shot multiple times.

In the Cambridge case, Simms had originally been jailed without opportunity for bond after he was found hiding in a suitcase in November of 2015.

Sometime afterward, his bond was lowered and he was able to post bail. That timeframe is not immediately clear as of this report.

Simms made his first court appearance Friday before Chief District Court Judge Brenda Brown. She explained to Simms if found guilty he could be sentenced to life or receive the death penalty.

She also told him, “You will not have a bond.”

Simms asked Branch, “Who do I talk to about a speedy trial?”

Branch told him to discuss that with his attorneys.

The man’s first appearance since being charged Thursday evening was held after Branch made a ruling about TV news crews being allowed to use cell phones to record the brief proceeding. had made an earlier request to be allowed to bring in a digital camera, which was approved by Branch and the district attorney’s office.

Branch ruled against allowing cell phones being used to record the proceedings but did allow TV cameras.

Two members of the Harris family, who had no immediate comment following the first appearance, were in the courtroom.

As Simms prepared to leave the courtroom, Branch said, “Good luck to you sir.”

District Attorney Valerie Asbell would only say afterward, “It’s an ongoing investigation and I’m bound by ethical obligations to not discuss the case further.”

Simms is scheduled to return to court on Nov. 15 so the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services can determine whether he will retain attorneys assigned to his previous cases or be assigned new ones.

(Lance Martin is the Editor and Publisher of Permission was received to publish this story.)