Popular Thomas Dale teacher found dead inside his pet store

Posted at 6:41 PM, Jan 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-04 01:33:21-05

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR)—Close friends of Thomas Dale biology teacher Vinny Ferraiolo confirmed to CBS 6 that the teacher was found dead inside the exotic pet store he has owned for years.

The call came in from a neighboring business around 12:30 p.m. Friday and police discovered Ferraiolo dead inside his shop, Off the Ark.

Friends tell us that he is survived by his wife, and five children, one he recently adopted from Haiti.

Students and staff will return to school on Monday, but they will not be without support from the school.

"The Thomas Dale High School crisis team met today to discuss the structure for making support services available to students and staff when school reopens Monday," Shawn Smith, Spokesman, Chesterfield Schools, said.

It quickly became clear on social media that Mr. Ferraiolo was very respected by his students. As the news spread, the Thomas Dale Knights were seen tweeting their condolences.

Ferraiolo had excellent reviews--going back to 2003--on the website Rate My Teachers,which allows students to explain the highs and lows of their classroom experience.

“He inspired me to do something more, and to become a teacher myself,” a student wrote in October 2011.

“He is cool too. He talks to people about problems and helps them out,” another student wrote.

Police said this is an ongoing death investigation, and have said they do not suspect foul play.

There will be a candlelight vigil in front of the Off the Ark, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 5.

CBS 6 has interviewed Ferraiolo several times in the past few years (click the video below for his interview on VTM).