Local News

Fayetteville Triple Murder Case Reopens 21 Years Later

Posted September 21, 2006 8:17 a.m. EDT

— Twenty-one years ago, a wife and two children were killed in their Fayetteville home in front of the youngest child. But now, after two trials, a conviction and an acquittal, sources indicate that the case has been reopened.

On May 10, 1985, 32-year-old Kathryn Eastburn was with her three young girls at their home on Summer Hill Road. Her husband, Air Force Capt. Gary Eastburn, was at training school in Alabama.

Sheriff's detectives said that in the pre-dawn darkness of that morning, someone entered the Eastburns' home, raped Kathryn and stabbed her to death, then slit the throats of 5-year-old Kara and 3-year-old Erin. Jana, who was only 22 months old, was left unharmed in her crib.

Four days later, deputies arrested 28-year-old Timothy Hennis, an Army sergeant at Fort Bragg. He was charged with three counts of murder in the first degree and one count of sexual assault.

In 1986, a jury sentenced Hennis to death. After two years on Death Row, however, Hennis won a new trial. That jury acquitted him in 1989.

The case is detailed in a book released in 1993, "Innocent Victims," by Wilmington author Scott Whisnant. It also inspired a TV miniseries in 1996.

In the book, Cumberland County District Attorney Ed Grannis says Hennis was the only suspect, and said, "There was no indication of any other suspect that should be brought to trial."

Hennis, who now lives in Washington State, and his Fayetteville attorney, Gerald Beaver, could not be reached for comment. WRAL also made repeated phone calls to the Cumberland County District Attorney's office and sheriff's office, but they have not been returned.