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Granville community mourns couple killed in apparent random attack

Posted January 2, 2015
Updated January 3, 2015

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— Friends, family and Granville County neighbors shared concern and confusion Friday as word spread of the murders of Jerome and Dora Faulkner.

They packed the pews at Mountain Creek Baptist Church in Oxford, where the couple attended for years, to celebrate their lives and mourn their deaths.

"There's no way to really measure how much they meant to people," said their pastor, Rev. Johnny Richards. "They just touched so many lives."

Authorities say the Faulkners were the apparent random victims of a father-son team who robbed and killed them then burned their Oxford-area house down early Thursday. 

Police in West Virginia found the couple dead in the back of their own pickup truck after a traffic stop and shootout with the alleged killers, Edward Watson Campbell, 54, and his son, Eric Alexander Campbell, 21, both of Alvin, Texas.

Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins Jr. said he knew the Faulkners and described them as wonderful people who were well-known in the community. 

"When you'd meet them, they had a smile on their face, and they always said something to make you feel good," Zelodis Jay said.

Jerome Faulkner, 73, was a retired fire chief with the Cornwall Volunteer Fire Department in Oxford. Dora Faulkner, 62, was a registered nurse who most recently worked at Central Regional Hospital in Butner.

Pat Watts, whom Jerome Faulkner recruited as a medic for his fire department 17 years ago, said the senseless crime angers her.

"I just want to know why," Watts said. "Why Granville County? Why from Texas here? Why out here in this country? Why not 3 miles up the road? Why their house?"

The Faulkners were like family to her, often going on fire calls together.

"They were just two very good, loving, giving people who always gave and didn't ask for anything in return," she said.

Friend Ann Fiscus stopped by the Faulkners' burned home Friday and found the family's charred Bible in the rubble.

"Since this has happened, I'm glad they went together," Fiscus said. "That's one relief we have."

One of the couple's two sons is a Raleigh firefighter. Both sons were at their parents' house Thursday night, talking to investigators.

"Everyone in the community thought a lot of (the Faulkners)," Wilkins said. "The community at this point is in shock. This kind of thing does not happen here."

Aiman Botros, who owns a shop down the road, agreed that random crime is practically unheard of in the community.

"It's countryside, friendly. It's like a big family," Botros said.

Richards knew his congregation would need to come together to respond.

"Everything you hear about this story is vicious," he said. "I knew there would be a lot of anger. I knew there would be a lot of pain. And I also knew this community will take care of one another." 

Father-son suspects provoked Texas neighbors 

Eric Campbell has been charged with two counts each of attempted first-degree murder and malicious assault on a government officer. His father will be charged with the same offenses when he is released from a Charleston, W.Va., hospital, authorities said.

Eric Campbell was in the Southern Regional Jail located in Beaver, W.Va., Saturday under a $500,000 bond.

Edward Campbell jumped bail on Dec. 18 in an aggravated assault case in Texas, said Brazoria County Criminal District Attorney Jeri Yenne. He allegedly attacked his wife with a firearm in September, she said, adding that she had pushed in court for a higher bond because of the violent nature of the case.

Neighbors in Alvin described the elder Campbell as "strange," "different" and "kind of mean," in interviews Friday.

Robert Bowers, who lived across the street from Edward Campbell, recalled, "He came up to the fence and looked at me. He says, 'I'll kill you.'"

Ray Dotson said he warned his children away from Campbell. "I've told my boys for years, when they were growing up, 'Leave that man alone. You don't know what he's going to do.'"

Other charges from North Carolina, Texas and other jurisdictions are pending against the Campbells.

Wilkins said he and two deputies were headed to West Virginia Friday to aid in the investigation and to interview the Campbells. He said the son has spoken to investigators in West Virginia but the father has not.

"We believe that, if West Virginia police would not have stopped this, this crime spree would have carried on," Wilkins said. "It's something you see in the movies. It's unreal."


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