By Peggy Mackenzie
Were it not for a permanently installed license plate scanner located on Interstate 64, the story of two killers on the run from Texas to North Carolina might never have hit the West Virginia newspapers.
It began on New Years Day, shortly after 4 p.m. with an alert of a stolen North Carolina plate on a white Chevrolet Suburban traveling west on 1-64. Lt. Jeromy Dove and Patrolman Nicholas Sams, with the Lewisburg Police Department, who only hours before were directing traffic during the Shanghai Parade, conducted a traffic stop near the Lewisburg exit, pulling the driver over, later identified as 21-year-old Eric Alexander Campbell of Alvin, Texas.
Before the officers could get the driver’s identity, another vehicle, a red Chevrolet Silverado pickup pulled over to the side of the road. When the driver emerged from the truck and approached the two officers, still standing before the SUV, he drew a .38 revolver from his waist band and fired on the officers, hitting Dove in the back and Sams in the chest.
Both officers were wearing bulletproof vests, which likely saved them from sustaining more invasive injuries or death.
A third Lewisburg Police officer, Cpl. J.M. Arbaugh, arrived on the scene just as the shooting started. All three officers retreated and sought cover behind a police vehicle, where Dove was able to fire a shot back at the shooter, later identified as Edward Watson Campbell, 54, also of Alvin, TX, wounding him in the leg.
At this point, Eric Campbell got out of the SUV and fled the scene in the pickup, while Edward Campbell took off on foot into the woods. He was shortly taken into custody by the Greenbrier County Sheriffs Department.
A half-mile west on 1-64, Eric Campbell drove the pickup behind a guard rail, crashing the vehicle over an embankment. He eventually walked up to the interstate and turned himself in to the sheriffs department without incident about 90 minutes later.
While some media reports suggested a third suspect could be on the loose, a Greenbrier 911 dispatcher said those reports were based on an inaccurate tip from a caller.
Lewisburg Police Chief Tim Stover later stated during a press conference on Friday, Jan. 2, “The whole [incident] only took 6 minutes; the shooting was over in seconds.” Both officers “took direct shots to the vest,” he said, saving them from more serious injuries, “and maybe much worse than that.”
Dove is a veteran officer with Lewisburg PD. Sams just graduated from the State Police Academy on Dec. 19.
Both Dove and Sams were transported to Greenbrier Valley Medical Center for treatment of superficial injuries and admitted overnight for observation. Arbaugh was not hit by any gunfire. Stover said Dove was hit by flying shrapnel in the back of the neck, and Sams was struck in the left forehead, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. The three Lewisburg Police officers will be returning to duty on Monday, Jan. 12.
The two suspects, who claimed to be father and son, were taken to be processed. Edward Campbell was transported to CAMC for treatment of his gunshot wound, and when released, he will be arrested and charged with malicious assault and attempted murder of a police officer in Greenbrier County. His son, Eric Campbell, was arraigned on those charges Friday, Jan. 2 and is being held on $500,000 bond in the Southern Regional Jail.
But the story doesn’t stop there: during a search of the Chevy truck, authorities found two recently deceased bodies under a mattress in the bed of the truck. They were identified as Jerome Faulkner, 73, and his wife, Dora, 62, from Oxford, NC, near Oak Hill. The truck belonged to the couple. Ownership of the white SUV, stolen in Texas with plates from North Carolina, however, has not been determined.
According to Granville County, NC Sheriff Bindell Wilkins, the news that police had discovered the Faulkners’ bodies has rocked the community. Jerome Faulkner was chief of the Cornwall Volunteer Fire Department in Oxford before retiring. Dora Faulkner was a registered nurse at nearby Central Hospital. They had two grown sons, one who lives in Raleigh, NC, and the other in Louisburg, NC.
“The community is in shock. This kind of thing does not happen here,” Wilkins said.
By outward appearances, the Faulkners had nothing worth stealing other than their late model Chevrolet pickup. It was not immediately clear why the two were targeted or whether they were killed in the initial attack or sometime later. The Campbells broke into the couple’s home Thursday morning, Jan. 1, set the house on fire, and took the Faulkners and their vehicle.
“It appears they were killed there in the house and loaded there in the truck and taken away,” the sheriff said.
Grief, confusion and few answers follow the trail of mayhem which stretches back to Alvin, TX, where the Campbell father and son reside. What took them to North Carolina and then West Virginia is unclear, as is why the Faulkners were slain. The younger Campbell does not appear to have had any previous run-ins with the law in Texas. Edward Campbell, on the other hand, has had several run-ins, including a narcotics conviction and his Texas medical license being revoked in 2009 for misappropriation of narcotics.
Edward Campbell’s most recent brush with the law occurred in September, when, according to authorities, he assaulted his wife with a handgun. During an ordeal lasting several hours, Campbell choked his wife, struck her with a pistol and wrapped a noose around her neck, according to court records. The woman eventually escaped and contacted police. Campbell was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, but later jumped his $75,000 bond.
As reported in the Houston Chronicle, neighbors stated that the Campbells kept to themselves, but there were warning signs something was amiss. Neighbors said Campbell’s wife and her children moved out months ago, and that Eric Campbell had lived in the family home after his father was arrested in September.
Edward Campbell left Texas after a motion to change his bond in an aggravated assault case was filed on Dec. 18. Brazoria County, TX District Attorney Jeri Yenne said prosecutors tried to impose additional, tougher conditions on Campbell, but that he made bail and later failed to show up to the
Dec. 18 court date, at which point authorities revoked his bond and issued a warrant for his arrest.
Both men are expected to face murder charges in the deaths of the Faulkners in North Carolina. Other charges from Texas and other jurisdictions are also pending against the duo.
Edward Campbell is currently being held at South Central Regional Jail in Kanawha County. His bond is set at $500,000. His preliminary hearing is on the docket for Wednesday, Jan. 14 at 1 p.m. Eric Campbell’s hearing was postponed due to a change of lawyers and has not yet been rescheduled as of Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, here in Lewisburg, the community is still reeling.