Homicides, home invasion

Published 1:08 pm Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Elderly resident, son shot multiple times


By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

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RUSHMERE — An elderly mother and her son were found shot to death in their Ennisdale Drive home Saturday, victims of what Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office has deemed a double homicide and home invasion.

Deputies were on the hunt for two vehicles belonging to the victims, a gray 2010 Ford F150 and a beige-tinted 2001 Chrysler minivan, which were missing from the property.

Family members had last spoken to Nancy Starnes, 80, and Kenneth Starnes, 58, the night of Thursday, Sept. 21, according to Lt. Tommy Potter, and contacted law enforcement late Friday evening, concerned that they had not heard back from the victims after attempts to contact them during the day. 

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Nancy Starnes, an avid Facebook user, shared a regular social media post at 4:30 a.m. Friday, according Sheriff Mark Marshall at a press conference Monday afternoon. A witness has also said that the victims’ cars were no longer at the residence at 12:30 p.m. Friday. 

A deputy from the sheriff’s office was sent to do a welfare check on the home early Saturday, Sept. 23, at a little after midnight, according to Potter.

The deputy knocked on the door and, hearing no response and seeing nothing suspicious, presumed the elderly Starnes was asleep at the late hour, Potter said.

At around 11:40 a.m. that same Saturday, deputies responded to another call from a relative of the homeowner who had arrived at the Ennisdale Drive residence, entered the house and discovered what appeared to be signs of forced entry visible on the inside.

The signs of a possible forced entry would not have been visible to the deputy who performed the welfare check from outside the building earlier that day, according to Potter, who said he could not go into more detail about the manner of the forced entry at this time.

The victims were found in separate areas at the rear end of the house, according to Potter, prompting three investigations: one for each victim, and one for burglary.

At the press conference, Marshall called the brutality of the killings shocking, with both victims suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

“By any standards, wherever you live, this is a gruesome, awful crime,” Marshall said.

Aside from the two vehicles, several guns and television sets were found to be missing from the residence, according to Marshall.

The bodies of the victims were transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Norfolk for autopsy Sunday, according to a press release from the Sheriff’s Office.

The Ennisdale neighborhood was crowded with law enforcement, forensic teams and medical examiners late into the evening Saturday, a lone metallic walker left positioned in front of the home’s small garage.

The tan house is set deep in a heavily wooded area of Rushmere, accessible by a narrow road of dirt and gravel.

Potter said it is still difficult to say at this point whether law enforcement is searching for more than one suspect in relation to the crime.

The two cars missing from the property include a Gray 2010 Ford F150 pickup truck, Virginia license plate: KFJ-6882, and a Beige/Gold 2001 Chrysler minivan, Virginia license plate: M4354 (Handicap).

The Chrysler minivan may have damage to the driver’s side mirror, with attempts at repair made with Duct tape, according to the press release.

“It appears to be fundamental to this investigation that those vehicles have been removed and … at least at this juncture, have not been located,” Marshall said.

Investigators are asking anyone with information into this crime to please call the Isle of Wight/Smithfield/Windsor Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP (1-888-562-5887). Individuals can also text a tip to the word CRIMES (274637) and then begin the message with the letters IOWCL and then send the anonymous tip to the Crime Line. If a caller’s tip leads to an arrest, the recovery of drugs or stolen property, they could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.