Meat Mallet? aka The Thanksgiving Triple Homicide

Hello, I’m Rebekkah Rosewood. And this is Thrice Cursed.


First and foremost, happy Thanksgiving! I’ll spare you my singing, even though my inner Linda Belcher is dying to emerge for her annual Thanksgiving Day song. So, you’re welcome. I’ve just given you one more thing to be thankful for! Luke on the other hand will not be so lucky later, as I will have to sing it at least THRICE. If I’m anything, it’s on brand.


gif

Hopefully wherever you’re spending your day, you’re safe, loved, and warm. As most of us true crime aficionados know, the holidays can be a dangerous time. Whether it’s burglars or family members, crime rates seem to skyrocket around the more major holidays. I’m not here to talk about burglaries though. Instead, I’ll be destroying your holiday cheer with a tale of family conflict, and murder. So buckle up and grab that pumpkin pie for comfort, or your meat mallet and turkey, because it’s about to get dark.


As many of us know, the holidays, while joyous for some, can be absolutely miserable for others. Some experience extreme loneliness and depression, while others struggle with the overwhelming stress that can come from spending an extended amount of time with certain family members. Around these times, domestic violence increases. Whether it’s from the stress of family time, financial strain, increased alcohol consumption, or simply the extra time off of work, the holidays are a hotbed of contention. And for one family in Chester, Virginia, this year it would prove to be too much.


The Gattis family home consisted of Youth Pastor Christopher Gattis, his wife Jeanett, and Jeanett’s daughter Candice “Candy” Lau Kunze. Gattis and Jeanett, both 58, lived in a typical suburban home in the 14000 block of Dogwood Ridge Court. Candice was 30 at the time, and had recently returned home from Oregon with her boyfriend, 36-year-old Andrew E. Buthorn to stay “for a few days.” Jeanett, ever the loving mother, was thrilled to have her daughter staying with her, and was more than happy to welcome her and her partner into her home. Which is why when her visit became less and less temporary, Jeanett didn’t protest. Christopher, on the other hand, was less than pleased, to put it lightly. Despite appearing to have a good relationship with his stepdaughter, her and Andrew’s continued presence in the home was grating on Chrsitopher’s last nerve. The couple had been staying with Jeanett and Christopher for 6 weeks when tensions boiled over.


At approximately 11:15pm on Thursday November 23rd, 2017, Thanksgiving, Christopher Gattis went upstairs and retrieved his pistol, before returning to his family downstairs. Candice, Andrew, and Jeanett were enjoying their evening together playing a board game when Gattis appeared in the doorway, his gun aimed towards Jeanett, finger on the trigger. Jeanett was shot first, followed by his panicking stepdaughter, who had, in her final moments, hit record on her cellphone. Then Gattis’ attention was turned to Andrew. Having seen what Gattis had just done to the family members he loved, he hid behind the kitchen table, pleading. “I will go out. I will leave.” After all, that’s what Gattis had wanted this whole time, for he and Candice to leave. Surely he could now, and his attacker would calm down, right?


Unfortunately, Christopher Gattis was anything but logical at that moment. He followed the fleeing Andrew through the house and out the front door. It was on the front lawn that Gattis shot Andrew twice through the stomach, leaving no survivors.

When Andrew fled the home, the Gattis family’s security alarm went off, signalling patrolling officer Frazier, who was already nearby. Upon Frazier’s arrival just minutes later, he observed Christopher Gattis just sitting on the porch steps while Andrew’s body lay in the grass nearby. The officer asked how many people had been shot, to which Gattis responded “three.”


Frazier then instructed Gattis to lie face-down on the ground, and handcuffed him, before calling for backup. While awaiting backup to secure the scene, Gattis had some interesting words for officer Frazier. “They’re probably all dead. They all came at me. They kept threatening me. They threatened to kill me.” A text from Gattis to Jeanett’s phone where he said he was ‘scared’ and begged for them to back off seemed to confirm this claim. That is, until further evidence was examined.


Prior to Thanksgiving, Jeanett had become unnerved by some of Christopher’s behavior. He seemed to be more irritable and agitated, and because of this, she began to record their interactions anytime it seemed he was upset. 2 nights before Thanksgiving, someone in the home had accidentally spilled wine on the carpet. As someone with a faux fur rug who is also a clutz, I get it. Wine stains, and it’s a bitch to clean it properly before it sets. But he took the frustration too far. He pushed beyond the understandable “fuck, seriously?” and straight to physical violence. Fueled by anger and alcohol, Gattis shoved his wife, and didn’t appear to be backing down. Afraid for her, Andrew put himself between the two in an effort to calm the situation.


Gattis later sent Andrew a text about the encounter saying,” Sorry you stepped into a bad situation.” Sounds an awful lot like one of those “sorry you feel that way” kind of non-apology apologies if you ask me. You didn’t, of course, but I’m telling you anyway.


There were several instances of Gattis starting arguments. Most of which were in regards to the presence of the 2 additional people in his home. Apparently following the strange behavior and increased arguments, Jeanett Gattis asked an adult nephew of hers to hide a gun. She was fearful that Gattis would use it. Clearly, her fears were not unfounded.


At around 6p the evening of Thanksgiving, Gattis once more approached the young couple. They were spending time in the hot tub in the backyard. An argument ensued, and it must have been somewhat loud, as Jeanett overheard and rushed to intervene. She turned her phone camera on and hit record. On the footage you could see Gattis shaking his finger at them as he yelled. Jeanett now on scene, Gattis retreated upstairs.


From upstairs, he could hear the trio discussing him and his behavior. What exactly was said, I’m unsure. It was then that he sent the message to Jeanett, claiming that he was afraid of her and Candice. It was a weird message, certainly, so Jeanett sent it to her nephew, stating that Christopher was acting oddly. She wasn’t concerned enough to leave the home, however.

Knowing what we know now, it seems that the text to her phone indicated premeditation. He likely knew what he was going to do, and was attempting to lay the groundwork for a self-defense claim. Were it not for the recordings on Jeanett and Candice’s phones, as well as the not-so-small detail that all 3 had been shot in their backs, he might have gotten away with it. According to legal analyst Russ Stone in an interview with 8News, “Legally what would be required to establish self-defense is a person has to have not been the person who started the argument and they have to have been reasonably in fear of death.”


Considering the footage found in evidence and the location of the gunshot wounds, this very clearly was not a self-defense situation. That’s even before you factor in history.


Despite having been an active member of Grace Lutheran Church, a Pastor, and even director of youth services, this kind of behavior isn’t exactly unheard of for Gattis. According to 8News, police had previously been dispatched to the Gattis home 7 times in the past 8 years. One of which was for a disturbance with a weapon. Outside of the home, Gattis was charged with public intoxication in 2010. The charge for this was later waved. In December of 2012 he was charged with assault and battery when he attacked a newspaper delivery man.


According to alleged victim Kevin Deford, he had been delivering a Richmond.com paper when Gattis grabbed the paper, ran out in front of Kevin’s car, then threw the paper through Kevin’s open window, hitting him on the head. Kevin’s son had been with him that day, and jumped from the car in an attempt to protect his father. That’s when Gattis allegedly pulled out a box cutter and waved it at the son. Kevin is quoted as saying, “He was out doing leaves that day, if I remember correctly, and just lost it is the best I can describe it.” My question is, aside from me, who the fuck takes a box cutter with them to rake or blow leaves? I don’t get it. I try to keep a box cutter on me when I’m outside because no one fucks with a bitch with a box cutter. A knife? Eh. Box cutter? No way, she cray. Anyway..


Kevin described Gattis’ general appearance and behavior as agitated, which Gattis later explained to Kevin, likely in an attempt to get the charges dismissed. According to Gattis, he’d received a test result he’d been waiting on from his doctor, and was waiting for them to call back with another one. According to various court records involved with the murder charges, Gattis paid $300 a month in medical expenses, and had only $2,000 in savings. --Healthcare in ‘Murica, amirite? The charge against Gattis for assault and battery was dismissed in January of 2013.


Friends of Gattis, however, say they were shocked when news of the murders broke. Despite his penchant for violent or reckless behavior, friends on social media said things like “[I] 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.” Interestingly enough, one friend said that Christopher used to drink, but quit. During the argument over the spilled wine, Gattis had been drinking. Another friend of Chris wrote. “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.”


One neighbor, Mike Brown, said that he was stunned by the shooting, and that he knew Christopher Gattis as a gentle man. He had no idea the couple was having problems.


And that brings me to one of my biggest beliefs in life. Thanks to true crime and my own childhood, I don’t necessarily subscribe to the whole “keep your private drama private” belief. Sure, people don’t need every single detail. But if you’re feeling unsafe in your home, if your partner is acting weird, if there’s been a serious dynamic shift, it’s okay to tell someone. It doesn’t have to be a facebook post. It doesn’t have to be a family member if you don’t want it to be. Just tell someone that you trust. And, create an “in case I go missing” file. Obviously this case has been solved, but there are so many that haven’t been. And several of which seem pretty obvious, but due to a lack of evidence or whatever other unfortunate circumstance, they remain unsolved. An “in case I go missing” file could help. I will be providing a link from Uncovered.com in the blog post to help you get your file started.


58-year-old Christopher Gattis was arrested on scene without incident. He was held without bond at the Chesterfield County Jail, and was charged with 3 counts of first-degree murder, and 3 counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. In June of 2018 a suppression hearing was held. Gattis’ attorney attempted to argue that his words at his home that evening should not be legally admissible in court, as Gattis had not yet been placed under arrest or read his Miranda rights. Responding officer Frazier testified that Gattis had only been detained initially in order to better understand the situation before determining Gattis should be arrested and reading him his rights. However, it was argued that based on case law, in an emergency situation a suspect can be handcuffed and placed in “investigative detention” prior to Miranda being read. Court Judge Timothy J. Hauler ruled that the statements made by Christopher Gattis on the evening of the murders, prior to him being read his Miranda rights, were admissible for trial.


After a jury heard the details of the time leading up to the cold-blooded murders of Candice Kunze, Andrew Buthorn, and Jeanett Gattis, and viewed the video recording from that evening, 59-year-old Christopher Gattis pleaded guilty to 3 counts of first-degree murder on August 15th, 2018. Gattis was sentenced to 100 years in prison for each of the counts, with 45 years suspended on each. All 3 terms are to be served concurrently, which somehow gives him an active sentence of 58 years. I’m not really sure how that math works out. Maybe it’s that fancy Common Core math I’ve heard so much about from the youthez and parents of youthez. I don’t know. If you understand how 3 100 year terms with 45 years suspended, served concurrently becomes 58, please give your girl a shout. Pretty sure as long as I’ve been alive 100-45 is 55. Did they add 3 for the amount of people he murdered? I just… I don’t… I don’t get it. Help. Anyway...


Jeanett Lau Gattis was 58 at the time of her murder and was described as bubbly and vivid, a stark opposite to Christopher. Neighbors said she was the kind of person who would do anything for those who needed it. She loved to travel and spend time with others, and was overall a very outgoing and genuine human being. Her obituary reads “Brought up a Lutheran with a German heritage she loved to have a good time with others and entertained often. She will be missed by so many people, especially her son and extended family.”


Candice Lau Kunze was only 30 when she was killed. To her friends and family, she was known as Candy. According to her obituary, she “had an indescribable zest for life and for travel. She always wanted to “expose the beauty in the world.” Candy combined her love of travel with her profession and became a traveling physical therapist.


Andrew Ellis Buthorn’s obituary reads “He will be remembered for his love of life, his enthusiasm for living, be it playing the guitar, riding his bike, or beating his dad in golf. He was a history buff, and a beer and coffee connoisseur. Most importantly Andrew loved his family more than anything.”


This has been the cursed tale of the triple homicide at Thanksgiving. When one JFWBF, instead of being grateful for those who loved him, decided to kill them, instead.


If you’re experiencing extreme stress over the holidays, please go to warmline.org. There you will find a directory of local warmlines you can call to talk with someone. Whether you are in crisis or not, someone will be available to help you. Or, if you have phone anxiety like I do, you can text the Crisis Text Line. Text MHA to 741-741 for support.


In addition to these resources, reach out to people you know. Many of us experience severe emotional distress around the holidays, and peer support is everywhere.


Furthermore, from my own experiences, I would like to leave you all with this message. Yes, the holidays are upon us. With that being said, you are not obligated to enter a situation or circumstance that you are uncomfortable with. Your mental and emotional health IS a good enough reason to stay home. Someone else’s feelings are not paramount to your own. People don’t change just because it’s a holiday. If they’ve shown you who they are, believe them. Protect yourself. Whether it’s from emotional danger, or physical, prioritize your safety and wellness this year. You matter. You are loved.


And if you’re feeling lonely, join us in the discord server or the facebook group. I can’t promise we’ll always respond immediately, and you absolutely shouldn’t prioritize the group over crisis resources, but if you’re just feeling alone, need to vent, or want someone to talk to, we’ll be there.


So to anyone listening, this year, I’m thankful for you. Happy Thanksgiving.




Melodramatic Fine Art - Postcard Set

Anchor

Beyond the Rainbow Podcast

IF I GO MISSING FILE vvv

https://uncovered.com/building-an-if-i-go-missing-file/

https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/violent-crime-strangers-and-nonstrangers

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/11/20/facts-about-crime-in-the-u-s/

https://www.tullamorelife.net/accusing-christmas-an-increase-in-crime-rates-during-the-holidays/

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/man-slaughtered-family-thanksgiving-played-13590077

https://www.wtvr.com/2017/11/27/christopher-gattis-in-court/

https://wric.com/news/local-news/chesterfield-county/theyre-probably-all-dead-court-docs-reveal-chilling-details-of-chesterfield-triple-murder

https://www.wric.com/news/local-news/chesterfield-county/all-three-victims-in-chesterfield-triple-murder-shot-in-the-back/1078070468/

https://www.judyrecords.com/record/v9k79azixc61d

https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=10155244689877426&_rdr

https://www.wtvr.com/2017/11/24/friends-express-shock-after-youth-pastor-accused-of-murdering-family/

https://heavy.com/news/2017/11/christopher-gattis-virginia-wife-photos-facebook-jeanett/

https://www.wtvr.com/2017/11/24/youth-pastor-christopher-gattis-arrested-for-murdering-family-on-thanksgiving-murder-chester-ashley-forrest-subdivision/

https://www.wtvr.com/2017/11/27/christopher-gattis-in-court/

https://www.chesterfieldobserver.com/articles/video-evidence-introduced-in-triple-homicide-case/

https://nypost.com/2018/08/16/ex-virginia-youth-pastor-gets-58-years-in-triple-slaying/

https://www.truecrimelibrary.com/magazinearticle/when-a-pastor-lost-patience/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/three-in-family-found-slain-near-richmond-police-say-a-domestic-matter/2017/11/25/868000a2-d1af-11e7-9d3a-bcbe2af58c3a_story.html

https://unicourt.com/case/urc-EM7BEFRVHEVDWDDPMMVV47K5KVEQU1021

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6065895/Ex-Virginia-youth-pastor-gets-58-years-triple-slaying.html

https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/crime/former-youth-pastor-sentenced-to-58-years-for-killing-wife-stepdaughter-stepdaugher-s-boyfriend

https://www.nbc12.com/story/36916408/police-identify-suspect-3-victims-killed-in-chester-thanksgiving-night/

https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/progress-index/name/jeanett-gattis-obituary?id=17653786

https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/theolympian/name/andrew-buthorn-obituary?id=17611136

https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/progress-index/name/candice-kunze-obituary?id=17653227





11 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All