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Suspect in 8 Virginia slayings surrenders to police

APPOMATTOX, Va. — Christopher Bryan Speight described himself in court papers as a dependable, hardworking person who was not quick to anger, and he showed pride in his ability to "find ways to get out of problems without using force or violence."

Friends, in letters in support of his successful 1995 application for a concealed weapons permit, called him "an upstanding, Christian young man" and "very mature and responsible."

But something happened in recent years that changed Speight, friends say.

It started when his mother died in 2006. David Anderson, 54, who worked with Speight and became friendly with him, said Speight told him that he began seeing a therapist but that it didn't help much. He had grown worse recently. "He had gotten quieter in the past six months," Anderson said.

On Tuesday, authorities said, Speight, 39, shot his sister, his brother-in-law and their two children, along with four family friends, in a rampage that left eight dead, the worst mass slaying in Virginia since a single shooter killed 33 people at Virginia Tech in 2007.

Speight surrendered to police at daybreak Wednesday. A bomb squad discovered a multitude of explosives at Speight's home, and crews were detonating the devices into the night.

Neither the sheriff nor a state police spokeswoman would disclose what Speight said when he gave up.

State police identified the victims of the slayings as Ronald Scruggs, 16; Emily Quarles, 15; Karen and Jonathan Quarles, both 38; Dwayne and Lauralee Sipe, both 38; Morgan Dobyns, 15; and Joshua Sipe, 4. Four victims were found inside Speight's house, three immediately outside it and one in the middle of a nearby road.

A family friend, Dakota Henderson, 17, who dated Speight's niece and did target shooting with Speight, said Morgan Dobyns was Speight's niece. Property records and online memorials named Speight's sister as Lauralee Speight Dobyns.

No court date for Speight has been set.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Suspect in 8 Virginia slayings surrenders to police 01/20/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 11:30pm]
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