Local News

Authorities: Wilson County Man Kills Grandparents To Support Drug Habit

Posted March 21, 2005

— A 21-year-old man was charged with first-degree murder Monday morning in connection with the shooting death of his grandparents that authorities describe as "cold-blooded."

Justin Pelletier was charged with murdering William and Edna Brantley, who were each found with at least two gunshot wounds on Sunday at their house in Wilson County. At his first court appearance Monday, Pelletier requested a court-appointed attorney. His next court date was set for April 4.

Pelletier, who lived with his grandparents, was arrested in Greene County on Sunday at 8 p.m. while he was riding with friends in Snow Hill. After his arrest, authorities found William Brantley's red Pontiac Grand Am, which had Edna Brantley's purse in it and a .22-caliber rifle.

Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay said that the couple was killed with a .22-caliber rifle while they were in bed.

"It was a cold-blooded killing of two people who loved him very much and took him in," Gay said.

Authorities believe that the Brantleys were killed between 9 and 11 p.m. on Wednesday of last week.

Authorities said that it appears the motive for the killings was money. Gay said that Pelletier, who had lived with his grandparents for at least two years, needed money to supply a drug habit.

"He had a severe drug habit -- crack cocaine," Gay said.

Gay said that Pelletier has shown little emotion about the killings and that he drove to see a rock concert in Virginia on Friday -- two days after the killings. Gay said that he does not believe any other people were involved in the crime.

"This kid shows absolutely no remorse for what he has done," Gay said. "He has traveled to Raleigh, Charlotte (and has) been to Hampton, Va., to a rock concert Friday night ... like nothing ever happened."

Brantley were married 48 years and had many friends in Wilson. They operated a printing business, Stallings Printers, out of their house.

"I've known this family for some time," Gay said. "I knew this boy's mother. Very reputable people, business people in this community and very fine people."

Authorities said they were tipped off to Pelletier's location when someone watching a TV newscast on Sunday called and told them about seeing the missing red Pontiac Grand Am.

William and Edna Brantley's daughter said she did not know why her son would do something like this.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all