Local News

Orange County Man Charged In Triple Murder

Posted July 3, 2002 8:13 a.m. EDT

— An Orange County man who had been ordered to stay away from his family has been charged with killing his daughter, another woman and a 2-year-old boy.

Alan Douglas Gates, 50, was arrested Monday night at the home of his estranged wife, Janet Clark Gates, according to officials with the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

He was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Valerie Michelle Gates, 24, Cordae Shimara Lee, 21, and Lee's 2-year-old son, Kendall Alexander Dianis, police said. He is being held without bond at Central Prison in Raleigh.

Alan Gates is accused of killing his daughter less than two months after he was accused of beating her in their home in southwestern Orange County.

According to court records, Gates was arrested May 7 after allegedly "striking her about the face with hands and fists" after she failed to help clean the house. Last week, Gates agreed to stay away from her, obtain mental-health and substance-abuse treatment, and continue taking prescription medication.

On Monday night, Janet Clark Gates, who secured a domestic violence restraining order against her husband June 11, called sheriff's deputies to escort her to the family home, Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass said. Her daughter had been receiving telephone messages from her father, so Janet Gates thought her husband might be at the residence, the sheriff said.

Deputies James Riley and Anthony Cecil escorted Janet Gates to her home, where they found Alan Gates lying on the bed in his bedroom with a revolver by his right side. The deputies immediately arrested him, charging him with violating the restraining order, which prohibited him from visiting the residence.

As the deputies handcuffed Alan Gates, Pendergrass said, Janet Gates discovered the bodies in a back bedroom.

Valerie Gates had been shot in the upper chest, while her friend, Lee, and Lee's son had bullet wounds to the back, Pendergrass said. Riley checked the victims' vital signs and determined all three were dead.

The bodies were taken Tuesday to the state medical examiner's office in Chapel Hill for autopsies.

Tuesday morning, deputies charged Alan Gates with violating the domestic violence restraining order. He was charged also with murder "due to evidence obtained at the scene and unsolicited statements uttered by Alan Gates," according to a news release from the sheriff's office.

Shortly after being charged, Alan Gates "emotionally went all to pieces," Pendergrass said.

"He jumped up off the bunk (in the holding cell) and ran into the bars and hit his head on them," Pendergrass said. "He was acting crazy and emotionally distraught."

About 7 a.m. Tuesday, deputies took Alan Gates to the emergency room at UNC Hospitals, where his wound was closed with seven staples, Pendergrass said. From there, deputies took him to Central Prison, which has a hospital.

Amy Holloway, director of Raleigh's Interact shelter for women, said Janet Gates has reason to be concerned.

Alan Gates had been charged nine times in connection with domestic violence or issuing threats. Records show he was found guilty two times; seven other charges were dismissed.

"It makes me angry that someone can be charged so many times and it only be a misdemeanor. People don't really look at that because, oh well, it was dismissed," Holloway said.

According to Holloway, domestic violence victims often choose to drop charges because of threats of more violence. She said domestic violence awareness is up over the past few years, but the stiffness of charges against offenders does not always follow.

"And you wonder why women don't trust the system," she said.

Court records show Gates' first charge of assault on a female was in 1987 in Orange County and resulted in a guilty plea. The penalty was $40 in court costs in exchange for a promise not to do it again. That $40 fine is less than many traffic offenses.

"We as a society have to hold these perpetrators more accountable. If they slip and make threats, we have to put them in jail. We need to keep them away," said.

Holloway said the Wake County women's shelter is the busiest its been in six years due to the rising awareness of domestic violence.