Local News

No bond for man charged with quadruple murder in Halifax County

Posted October 27, 2017 11:13 a.m. EDT
Updated October 28, 2017 5:14 p.m. EDT

— An Enfield man charged with four counts of murder in the Aug. 21 deaths of two couples was being held without bond after his first court appearance in Halifax County on Friday morning.

Matthew Lewis Simms, 25, is charged in the deaths of Janice Harris, James Harris, Peggy Whitley and James Whitley. The Harrises and the Whitleys were shot while sitting at the Harrises' kitchen table playing cards, authorities said.

Simms is one of eight people also linked to a June 2015 murder in Enfield, and he has a history of convictions over the past decade for numerous break-ins, as well as on weapon and drug charges, according to state Department of Public Safety records.

On Feb. 17, 2016, a judge set Simms' bond at $100,000. A court later demanded all notes on the case be turned over to the defendant by May 16, 2016. If they were not, it was ordered that his bond be reduced to $10,000.

Two days after the deadline, Simms' bond was reduced, and he bonded out.

Simms did not show up to a court appearance on June 15, 2017, which led deputies to begin looking for him.

The Harrises and the Whitleys were murdered two months later.

Authorities said a family member found the bodies of the couples inside the home at 980 Fishing Creek Road, in the Glenview community west of Enfield. Some items were missing from the home, but there were no apparent signs of a struggle, authorities said at the time.

Amanda Hilhorst Little, the granddaughter of the Harrises, described her grandmother as sweet and talkative, and her grandfather as a compassionate man, but a hard worker.

"They lived their life quietly and happily. Surrounded by family and friends, they made us who we are today," Little said in a statement to WRAL News.

Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp said two weeks ago that the home might have been targeted and the killings might have been gang-related.

In court on Friday, Simms cried as the charges were read aloud. He told the judge that he has hired an attorney, and his next court date was set for Nov. 15.