Chesapeake Community Tries To Understand Why ‘Nice Boy’ Killed Family In Murder-Suicide

The Chesapeake community where six people were found dead Wednesday is a tight-knit one. The family at the center of a gruesome murder-suicide there has been described as the cornerstone of the community.

Its patriarch, the Rev. Allen Dooley, was a pastor at Temple Baptist Church before his death in 2010. He left behind a big family that included his wife of 50 years and nine grandchildren. The night after a shocking murder-suicide, the Chesapeake community gathered at Rev. Dooley’s church to mourn six of his relatives, the Virginian Pilot reported.

A horrific scene unfolded in the Chesapeake community of Deep Creek on Wednesday. Officers arrived at the Dooley house on Wildwood Road responding to a call to check on a person, the Associated Press reported. There, they found the dead body of Landon Dooley, 22.

Officers then went just down the street to his grandmother, Doris’ house, and there found an armed man barricaded inside, the Pilot added. They got him on the phone to negotiate, and they learned the man on the phone was Landon’s brother, Cameron, 26.

For several hours, police tried to talk Cameron down. It’s not clear what happened to make them finally give in and storm the “neat, white Cape Cod with the picket fence.” When they got inside, they found a horrifying scene — an apparent murder-suicide, and far too many victims.

Cameron was dead, and so were four other people: his mom, Lori, 54; his dad, Steven Todd, 50; his sister, Brooke, 17, and Doris. All had been shot to death, and then Cameron turned the gun on himself in a violent murder-suicide.

Police don’t know if the murder took place before or during negotiations.

Two days later, Chesapeake police are still investigating and have no idea what motivated Cameron to kill his entire grandmother, parents, brother, and sister. Pilot columnist Kerry Dougherty speculated.

“What could possibly incite such murderous rage in a young man? No doubt mental illness will be blamed. Or depression. Or a less-than-wonderful childhood. But these excuses insult the legions of people who fight mental illnesses and struggle with depression and overcome unhappy childhoods without harming anyone else. There can be no excuse. No explanation. Just sorrow.”

The friends, family, and neighbors in Chesapeake who gathered at a service Thursday night — filling the parking lot so that some mourners had to park on the grass — expressed that sorrow as they remembered the family. Many of them struggled to grasp the shocking murder-suicide as they remembered the dead.

According to WTKR, Doris was remembered by William Bernstein, who played piano in her late husband’s church, as having a warm personality. Brooke was remembered for her caring attitude and willingness to help by a former classmate, Joshua Kasey. Todd was a retired Chesapeake police officer who was “never be upset or frustrated – just always had a really calming, positive outlook,” said co-worker Lindsey Hillier Hotchkiss. Friend Luke Gray remembered Lori as a “very heartwarming, lovable person” who always had a smile on her face. Landon had only just graduated from high school.

And, of course, in the wake of this murder-suicide, neighbors in Chesapeake are confused that this could happen to “really good Christian people” like the Dooleys. Neighbors never sensed any trouble, Mr. Dooley didn’t mention any trouble with his kids, and Cameron betrayed no red flags.

“He seemed to be a happy child growing up. The boys were always out riding their bikes, and your average family,” said another neighbor, Cheryl Harris.

Neighbor Desiree Darst said he helped take care of his grandmother after his grandfather died, and said that “he was a very nice boy. I don’t understand.”

According to the Pilot, he’d been living with her. That this young man could perpetrate a violent murder-suicide is beyond comprehension. Neighbor Cindy Jones, who has known the family for years, can’t wrap her head around it.

“Shocked. Totally in shock. For a child to do this to parents, I was talking to my mom and you know you get mad at your parents, but to go so far as killing, I just don’t understand it.”

[Image via John Roman Images/Shutterstock]

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