Suspect Sought in Double Slaying

John Scales III was shot and killed at the Woodyard Barber Shop, where he worked. The suspect's wife had been fatally shot about 10 minutes earlier.
John Scales III was shot and killed at the Woodyard Barber Shop, where he worked. The suspect's wife had been fatally shot about 10 minutes earlier. (By Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post)
By Virgil Dickson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 4, 2007

As the search continued yesterday for a Prince George's County man accused of fatally shooting his wife and a barber Thursday, police said they think the gunman mistakenly suspected that the victims were having an affair.

Officers said Terris T. Luckett, 39, shot and killed his wife, Tunja Luckett, 36, at their home in the 7300 block of Lanham Lane in the Fort Washington area about 6:45 p.m. and then shot the barber, John Scales III, 37, at a barbershop about 10 minutes later.

"We believe he mistakenly believed his wife was involved in a relationship with the barber," said Cpl. Diane Richardson, a county police spokeswoman. "At this point in the investigation, there is no evidence to support that."

Kenneth Austin, an owner of the Woodyard Barber Shop in the 8900 block of Simpson Lane in the Clinton area, said that Luckett had a history of animosity toward Scales, a youth football coach, and that Luckett threw a brick through one of the shop's windows about five months ago. Austin said he and Luckett were in court over the damage to the window.

Court records confirm that Austin is a complainant in a pending case in which Luckett was accused of malicious destruction of property. Records also show that about the time the property damage case was filed, Scales sought court protection from Luckett, although the order was later dismissed.

Austin said Scales was a minister, was married and had six children. Relatives of Tunja Luckett, who were at her home yesterday, declined to comment.

A neighbor of the Lucketts', who declined to give her name because the suspect remained at large, said she rushed to her door Thursday evening after hearing two loud sounds. "I thought they were firecrackers," she said.

The woman said she watched as Tunja Luckett, crouching by her steps, was shot several times. The woman said the gunman fled in a vehicle.

Police said Luckett was last scene driving a 1995 green Nissan Pathfinder with Maryland registration 309M491.

At the barbershop yesterday, patrons fondly recalled the man they knew as Little John. Flowers, cards and miniature statues of the Virgin Mary adorned the storefront.

"He was such a beautiful person," said Martha Williams of Clinton, whose teenage son worked at the shop. "I'm just floored. I only hope Jesus can help him wherever he is at."

Gay Carden of Clinton has taken her children to the barbershop for more than a decade. She said she would have to break the news to them. "I am going to bring them back to this place and tell them people are mean and just don't care," she said.

Maurice Peavy of Clinton visited the shop once a week for Scales to cut his hair. "I'm still in shock. I was actually going to come and ask him if he had heard what happened," he said.

County police said they have contacted authorities in Chicago, where Luckett has relatives.

Staff writer Candace Rondeaux and researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

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