Neighbors recall details of day Granville couple killed, house set ablaze
Posted July 12
Updated July 20
Oxford, N.C. — A series of witnesses testified Wednesday about seeing a strange SUV in their rural neighborhood in northern Granville County on New Year's Eve 2014 and then watching hopelessly the following day as a nearby home burned to the ground, with their neighbors nowhere to be found.
Eric Alexander Campbell, 24, of Alvin, Texas, is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, second-degree arson, robbery with a dangerous weapon, larceny of a motor vehicle, financial card theft, identity theft and two counts of cruelty to animals in the Dec. 31, 2014, deaths of Jerome Faulkner, 73, and his wife, Dora Faulkner, 62.
If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Authorities say Campbell and his father, Edward Watson Campbell, stormed into the Faulkners' home, robbed them, set fire to the house and killed them before fleeing in both the couple's Chevrolet Silverado and a stolen SUV.
Michael Weary, who lives a short distance down N.C. Highway 96 from where the Faulkners lived, said he and his brother-in-law, Joshua Boyd, were returning from a hunting trip on Dec. 31, 2014, when an unfamiliar SUV cut him off and drove slowly down N.C. 96, stopping suddenly several times, including in front of the Faulkners' home.
Weary said he finally passed the SUV to turn into his driveway, and young man he identified as Eric Campbell was behind the wheel while an older man was trying to read a map in the passenger seat.
"You want to see who's in your neighborhood, why they were there," Weary said of staring down the occupants of the SUV.
The following morning, both Weary and Boyd said they heard loud popping noises and later discovered the Faulkners' home was engulfed in flames.
"It looked like something straight up out of a horror movie. It was flames coming out of every window, completely gone," Boyd said.
Word of the fire quickly spread in the community, and Wilma Owen said neighbors realized the Faulkners weren't in the house, but no one knew where they were. Owen said she had talked to Jerome Faulkner on the phone the previous evening, and nothing was wrong at the time.
John Slagle, who owns a convenience store just across the Virginia state line, said two men came into his convenience store on Dec. 31, 2014, looking for a West Virginia map. The men said they were from Texas, Slagle said, recalling how they made an effort to stay out of the angle of his security camera. He identified Eric Campbell as the younger of the two men.
Police in Lewisburg, W.Va., arrested the Campbells on New Year's Day 2015 following a shootout, and investigators found the Faulkners' bodies under a mattress in the back of a pickup.
Edward Campbell killed himself in March 2015 in Raleigh’s Central Prison, where he was being held.
Eric Campbell's attorneys have argued that he was under the control of his father and didn't willingly participate in the crime spree.
Earlier Wednesday, his stepmother bolstered that case by testifying of his relationship with his father.
Holly Smook said Edward Campbell beat her and threatened to kill her in 2014 because he thought she was having an affair. After Edward Campbell was charged in the case, Eric Campbell posted bond so his father could get out jail.
"I told him there was a reason his bail was set so high, and it'd be a bad idea to bail his dad out," Smook said.
Sgt. Jose Reveles of the University of Texas Medical Center Police also said he urged Eric Campbell to stay away from his father as he investigated the domestic violence incident and help set up a security plan to keep Smook safe at work from her husband.