Thanksgiving triple-murder suspect was charged with assault in 2012

Christopher Gattis (Source: Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office)
Christopher Gattis (Source: Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Nov. 27, 2017 at 10:41 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 28, 2017 at 2:18 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A judge denied bond to former youth pastor Christopher Gattis, who is accused of killing his wife, step daughter and step-daughter's boyfriend on Thanksgiving in Chesterfield.

On Monday, Christopher Gattis appeared in court for the first time since the shootings. He told the judge he could not afford an attorney, so one was granted to him.

Heartbreak and shock are just some of the words loved one are using to describe the sudden loss of Jeanett Gattis, her daughter Candice Kunze and Candice's boyfriend Andrew Buthorn. They were gunned down on Thanksgiving.

In a public Facebook post, Jeanett's son and Candice's brother Adam Lau posted:

Christopher Gattis was a youth director in charge of youth ministry at Grace Lutheran Church on Harrowgate Road. The church now says he's suspended without pay.

For now, Christopher Gattis' case is split. The murder and firearms charges concerning Buthorn are in Chesterfield General District court. The murder and firearms charges for Christopher Gattis' wife and step-daughter are at Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic court.

Court documents show Christopher Gattis has had past run-ins with police. In 2010, he was charged with public intoxication, but the charge was waived. Then in 2012, he was charged with assault and battery.

"He was on edge that day, was my thinking," says Kevin DeFord, who is the victim in the 2012 case.

DeFord was delivering samples of a newspaper with his son and tossed one onto Christopher Gattis' driveway.

"On the way up, he had come from his driveway and was standing in the middle of the road," said DeFord.

He says Christopher Gattis threw the paper at his face and started yelling, even going as far as to pull out a box cutter.

"The fact that he pulled the box cutter, it had me thinking about my son at that point, and that's why the police were called," says DeFord. "But again, it seemed like he was on edge that day when I met him."

Christopher Gattis was found guilty, but the charge was dismissed once Christopher Gattis paid restitution. Now knowing this man is connected to a triple murder has DeFord shaken.

"Now it makes me wonder a little more um, what might have been," he said.

A Celebration of Life for Jeanett and her daughter will be happening on Saturday at Grace Lutheran Church at 11:30 a.m.

Friends have started a GoFundMe page to help Adam Lau during this time:

Copyright 2017 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

Report an Error or Submit a Tip to NBC12