Local News

Violette Pastor: 'This Is Not John'

Posted January 17, 2007 6:34 a.m. EST
Updated January 18, 2007 1:18 p.m. EST

— A 4-year-old girl's slaying and her father's arrest for it continue to shock those who know the family, nearly a week later.

John Patrick Violette, 37, of Clayton, was officially charged with first-degree murder Wednesday in his daughter Katlin's death. His wife, Amber Violette, discovered the body when she returned home from work Friday.

Authorities said the child's head had been severed from her body in a scene that disturbed emergency responders to the home and people throughout the Triangle who read about or heard about the killing.

"This is not John," said Stephen Davey, senior pastor at Colonial Baptist Church in Cary.

Davey said Wednesday that John Violette was a devoted father who, along with his wife, attended Colonial Baptist regularly. Amber Violette, he said, was in church Sunday and asked church members to pray for her husband.

There could possibly be information that comes out over time to help explain what allegedly happened, Davey said. What that information is, however, he declined to say.

Clayton police officers and State Bureau of Investigation agents had flown to Washington, D.C., early Wednesday to pick up John Violette from the custody of the U.S. Marshal's Service.

They took him to Smithfield for his initial court appearance, where District Judge Andy Corbett denied bond, ruling that John Violette is a flight risk and citing the "heinous nature" of the crime.

Clayton police said they found John Violette's vehicle parked at Raleigh-Durham International Airport late Friday. Authorities used credit card information to track him down at a hotel near Capitol Hill.

Extra security was in place at the courthouse because of the intense publicity surrounding the case and the strong emotions it stirred in the community. Violette, who was shackled and dressed in an orange-and-white jumpsuit, remained silent during the brief hearing.

After several days of investigation, Clayton Police Chief Glen Allen said there is still no known motive in the case.

"The evidence has only led us to him," Allen said. "After a thorough review of the evidence, I'm confident in the case that has been presented."

According to a search warrant, police seized a kitchen knife and a butcher knife from the Violettes' home as evidence.

Allen said investigators executed a second search warrant Wednesday to obtain DNA samples from Violette.

U.S. Marshals said Violette quoted the Bible and screamed uncontrollably when they arrested him.

Investigators are checking to see if he had previous signs of mental illness.

Court-appointed defense attorney Robert Denning declined to comment after Wednesday's hearing as to whether he would request a mental evaluation.

"I know what I'm going to do," Denning said without elaborating.

Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said she wants to review the final autopsy report before deciding whether to seek the death penalty in the case.

After his court appearance, Violette was transferred from the Johnston County Jail to Central Prison in Raleigh. Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said he wanted Violette held at the state prison for his own safety.

Katlin Violette's funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at Colonial Baptist Church at 6051 Tryon Road.

In lieu of flowers, the family asked that contributions be made to the church for a new playground to be dedicated in Katlin's memory.