Christopher Gattis, a youth pastor from Virginia, is accused of the grisly Thanksgiving Day triple murder of his wife, stepdaughter, and his stepdaughter’s boyfriend, whose bodies were found in the home and yard where they all lived together.
Authorities are accusing Gattis of shooting his wife, Jeanett Gattis, her 30-year-old daughter Candice Kunze, and Candice’s boyfriend, Andrew Buthorn, 36, just before midnight. Both Christopher and Jeanett Gattis were 58-years-old. According to Richmond.com, Gattis has now been charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Neighbors Heard Gunshots Ring Out but a Motive Is Unclear
Christopher Gattis and the three victims lived together in the home, according to Richmond.com. The newspaper reported that the women’s bodies were found inside the home, and the body of Buthorn was located in the yard.
Candy Kunze had recently moved home from Oregon with her boyfriend, the newspaper reported.
A neighbor described hearing two bangs ring out in the night, and police are investigating the triple slaying as a domestic incident, but the exact motive has not yet been specified, according to Richmond.com. The home was located in a subdivision, and the bodies were discovered at about 11:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Chris Gattis was arrested at the scene.
2. Gattis Was a Pastor for a Lutheran Church
On Facebook, Christopher Gattis wrote in July 2014 that he had started working at Grace Lutheran Church as the Director of Youth Ministry. The church is located in Chester, Virginia. He also wrote that he had studied at Virginia State University and attended Colonial Heights High. The couple married in 2009, according to a wedding photo album on Christopher Gattis’ Facebook page. He moved to Chester in 2008, the page says.
Under the above photo on Facebook, Christopher Gattis had written “This is sooooo us!” and Jeanett replied, “yes it is Baby! Muah!” Gattis’ family also runs a local furniture store, according to Richmond.com.
Grace Lutheran Church confirmed that Christopher Gattis was a pastor there, and released a statement that read, “Members of Grace Lutheran Church are deeply saddened by the loss of life last night as a result of three individuals being shot in Chester and this tragedy included members of Grace Lutheran Church. Grace Lutheran Church has experienced many hardships over the years, but this heartbreak has unique challenges. Grace Lutheran Church asks for the prayers from the community as our congregation begins the process of addressing the grief being experienced by everyone involved.”
3. Jeanett Worked as a Realtor & the Women Died in the Kitchen, Reports Say
According to WRIC-TV’s Gretchen Ross, writing on Facebook, Jeanett Gattis worked as a realtor for years. “Jeanett Gattis was a 15 year employee of Napier Realtors, ERA. Jeanett was a dedicated, hard working member of our real estate family and her passing has left us in a state of shock and sadness. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of all the victims,” the company confirmed in a statement to the television reporter.
Police were drawn to the home by a “reported alarm,” according to ABC News. NBC12 reprinted a transcript of 911 audio that allegedly said, “I have one detained; be advised he shot three people … I got one male subject on the ground. He’s got two gunshots to the stomach … Sir, we have two females down in the kitchen.”
Neighbors had positive things to say about the family and had noticed nothing amiss; one told NBC 12, “They’re just the type of people who would do anything for you.” However, WTVR reported that Chris Gattis had past brushes with the law. “Christopher Gattis was charged with public intoxication in 2010 but the charge was waived. He was also charged with assault and battery in 2012, but that charge was dismissed, according to court records,” the television station reported, adding that friends described Gattis as the quiet one in the relationship and his wife as more bubbly.
4. Kunze Was a Physical Therapist Who Wrote, ‘Love My Family’
According to her Facebook page, Candice Kunze, who went by the name Candy, worked as a “Travel Physical Therapist at AMN Healthcare” and had been a “Consultant at Arbonne.” She also wrote that she “studied Physical Therapy, DPT at Radford University Doctor of Physical Therapy.” Her Facebook page contains photos from travels to the Oregon Coast Trail and Croatia. Under a photo showing Kunze with her mother, Christopher Gattis and another relative, Kunze had written, “Love my family.”
Kunze’s mother wrote on the comment thread of the Croatian picture in September: “Wonderful, bc that was one of the things I prayed for you, gratitude & appreciation for the beauty you were taking in all around you! Proud of you ‘Baby Girl’! Love you! Mom.” Jeanett’s cover photo on Facebook was a cross.
Jeanett had recently written that she was participating in a charity run. “WOW! I’ve already received donations!!! Thank you so much!!! As someone who also suffers from Arthritis, this means a lot to me!!!” she wrote.
5. Friends Expressed Shock on Social Media & Several Recalled That Christopher Gattis Seemed Like a Good Natured Man
People who knew the Gattis family expressed shock and grief on Facebook. “…know the family and am in shock! Chris was always nice and soft spoken and seemed very happy with Jeanett when I last saw them a couple years ago. I’m praying for all involved!” wrote one woman. Another woman wrote that she knew someone who “went to highschool with both husband and wife and we also taught them dance at their church ):”
Another man wrote on Facebook of the allegations against Christopher Gattis: “Today was a very sad day as I received word that Chris Gattis, the youth minister at Grace Lutheran Church in Chester, VA shot and killed his wife, his step-daughter and his step-daughter’s boyfriend on Thanksgiving evening. I am shocked by this news and am trying to make since of it myself tonight. I knew Chris and have recently worked with him on some ministry projects together. He seemed like a good natured man who loved God, his family and his youth group. Just so hard to make sense of how Chris could do such a thing? Sadly you never know what is going on behind closed doors. Please pray for the families of the victims as they mourn the loss of their loved ones. Please pray for the members of Grace Lutheran as they try to cope with the aftermath of this terrible tragedy. And please pray for Chris, that he would be led to repentance and come to know the grace and mercy of Jesus in his life.”