In a spree of death and violence that spanned eight hours and two states, two men fatally shot a Virginia state trooper, killed a Salem, Va., man, kidnaped his wife and then fatally shot the woman and themselves after their stolen van overturned during an 85 mph police chase.
The chain of shootings that started Thursday night near Front Royal, Va., ended near Roanoke when the van flipped onto its side and skidded across Rte. I-81. Police officers found in the van the bodies of two armed assailants, one a Jamaica-born illegal alien wanted for murder in Pennsylvania, and their female hostage -- all shot in the head, police said.
"This is a tragic thing -- a man, his wife, a trooper killed. You wouldn't even try to compare it to anything. It's just a tragedy," said state police special agent Lonnie Craft.
Craft said he could not recall an incident as bizarre and brutal as yesterday's series of killings.
"It may take us days to piece all this together," said one Roanoke County detective.
State Trooper R.M. McCoy, 28, who had stopped the two men on I-81 near Roanoke on a minor traffic complaint, was the first to be killed. The five-year member of the force was fatally wounded by at least two shotgun blasts as he approached a car the men had stolen Thursday night near Winchester, Va.
The owner of the car, Harry Watson Harris, who was shot outside Winchester while attempting to flee his abductors, was listed in satsfactory condition yesterday with shotgun wounds to his shoulder, neck and face.
After shooting the trooper, the two men left the stolen car on foot to search for another getaway vehicle, police said. They blasted their way into the home of Anthony Loicano, 44, with a shotgun about 2 a.m., and stabbed and shot Loicano, president of a Roanoke area pizza franchise. The men then abducted his wife, Christine, 43, and attempted to escape in the family's van, leaving the couple's two young sons unharmed in the house.
Police identified one of the assailants as Denziel Nathaniel (Vernon) Malcolm, a 33-year-old Jamaican immigrant and itinerant farmer who was being sought in connection with the murder last week of his former girlfriend in Harrisburg, Pa., and was facing federal deportation proceedings.
Authorities tentatively identified the second man as Willie (Jimmy) Anderson, 23, a Haitian national and drifter from the Gettysburg, Pa., area.
Malcolm had been deported once from the United States, but reentered the country by boat in Miami in October 1982. He was arrested a year ago by police in Harrisburg on a federal warrant and was placed on probation a month later after being convicted of failing to appear in federal court in New York. Immigration officials recently had begun deportation proceedings against him.
Police said they had no other information on Willie Anderson, and could not explain why both men would commit suicide. Craft said no drugs were found, but both bodies would be tested to see whether the men were under the influence of drugs.
It seemed that the only ones to come in contact with Malcolm and Anderson and survive unscathed were the 7- and 8-year-old sons of slain pizza franchise owner Loicano.
Police found the boys in shock but uninjured upstairs in the family's large home in a wealthy residential area about a mile from I-81, south of Salem.
"One of them told the boys they were hostages and to go into the bedroom, which they did. That's where they were when the officers arrived there," Capt. L.J. Wade of the Roanoke County Sheriff's Department told United Press International.
Authorities believe Malcolm was attempting to flee charges stemming from the murder last Saturday of a former girlfriend, Anna G. Jones, in Harrisburg. Police there contend that Malcolm shot Jones in the head after finding her with another man.
Malcolm and Anderson are believed to have been among a group of Jamaicans who were standing on street corner known to be a popular drug trafficking spot in Martinsburg, W.Va., Thursday evening when they hailed a local resident, Harris, and offered to pay him $10 for a ride to Winchester in Harris' 1972 Opel.
Harris, 34, a kitchen worker at the Veterans Administration hospital in Martinsburg, said he accepted. "I'm just a good-hearted person," Harris said in an interview yesterday.
Once the men arrived in Winchester, Harris said his two passengers changed directions and began wandering aimlessly over dark country roads.
The three stopped on Rte. 522 between Winchester and Front Royal, Harris said, and one the men got out of the car to urinate. When he returned, Harris said the man demanded that he drive and his companion in the back seat produced a sawed-off shotgun.
Harris said his passengers stopped the car again a short time later and forced him from the vehicle. "They said, 'Let's go take a walk!' I had a feeling that they were just going to shoot me . . . . I took off running and that's when I heard the shotgun."
Harris said he ran wounded into the dark and took cover in the underbrush. "I just held my breath and they didn't find me." He later hailed a passing motorist and was taken to the Winchester Medical Center for treatment.
Police said they believe Malcolm and Anderson returned to I-81 and drove through the night. In Roanoke, they caught the attention of at least two truck drivers, who called state police on their CB radios, complaining that an Opel was tailgating them with its high-beam headlights on.
Trooper McCoy heard the call and apparently saw the trucks and the Opel pass by. He caught up with Malcolm and Anderson, pulled them to the side and got out of his patrol car.
"When he approached the vehicle, he was shot almost immediately," said state Police Superintendent R.L. Suthard.
State police spokesman Charles Vaughn said Malcolm and Anderson were probably frightened when a passing trucker abruptly stopped his rig. The two fled on foot, running a half mile to the Loicanos' affluent residential area.
Police said the pair first tried to steal the van of one homeowner but backed it into a ditch. They then walked across the street to the Loicanos' house and fired two shotgun blasts through a sliding glass door.
Anthony Loicano apparently got out of bed to investigate and was shot and stabbed, police said. The two assailants led Christine Loicano into the garage in her nightgown and forced her into the family's silver van.
They didn't even open the garage door, simply crashing through it in their escape, police said.
Moments later, the van forced a county deputy sheriff off the road as it careered toward the ramp onto I-81. A Roanoke County patrol car and a Salem officer saw the van run over a stop sign as it headed south.
The officers pursued the van, which they said slowed down about six miles farther, veered onto the shoulder, swerved and flipped over. "[The driver] just lost control," said Craft. He said he did not know which of the men was driving.
As officers approached the crippled vehicle, they heard gunshots being fired inside, police said.
Officers found the body of Christine Loicano, shot once in the temple with a .357 revolver. One of the men was shot with a handgun behind the ear. The other was shot in the face with the shotgun, said police, adding that they never fired at the van.