SAMPSON COUNTY, N.C. — As a man accused of killing his mother and her children made his first appearance in court on Monday, investigators are looking for a possible motive.
Kenneth Hartley, who is charged with three counts of murder, was given a court-appointed attorney. Hartley is accused of killing his mother, Gail Tyndall, and his two half-siblings, 13-year-old Triston Bush and 11-year-old Robert Bush.
Many people never pictured Hartley would be a murder suspect.
"Every time I went down there, he kept to his self. I didn't know if he had any friends or not, but he was just all to his self," neighbor Tina Williford said.
On Friday, relatives were concerned when Hartley and his mother did not appear at work, so they contacted police. When police arrived at the mobile home where the family lived, they found the victims' bodies, stabbed and strangled, in different rooms.
Deputies were concerned at first when they could not find Hartley because they believed he may have been a victim. However, they now suspect he was involved with the triple murder.
Neighbors in the area said they are still stunned about the incident.
"We hung out a lot. It's kind of different when you go down there, and you can't hang out with them and you just see yellow tape in their yard," Williford said.
Authorities say Hartley does not have a criminal record. He is being held without bond somewhere other than the Sampson County Jail, but they will not say where. Officials said that is standard in Sampson County murder cases.