Friends express shock after youth pastor accused of murdering family

Posted at 10:25 PM, Nov 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-25 14:17:27-05

CHESTER, Va. – Friends sent CBS 6 a photo of Jeanett and Christopher Gattis hugging and smiling for a picture at their 40th high school reunion a few months ago. The couples affectionate pose stands in stark contrast to what police say happened at their Chester home Thanksgiving night.

Chesterfield Police say Christopher Gattis shot and killed his wife Jeanett, her 30-year-old daughter Candy Kunze, and Candy's boyfriend, 36-year-old Andrew Buthorn.

Police said all four lived together at the residence in the 14000 block of Dogwood Ridge Court, and they went to the scene after an alarm was activated at the house.

Christopher and Jeanett L. Gattis

Friends told CBS 6 Christopher worked as a youth minister at Grace Lutheran Church, and the pair graduated from Colonial Heights High School in 1977, but did not fall in love until much later, reuniting at a high school reunion in the early 2000s.

Friends and neighbors who spoke with CBS 6 described the news as shocking.

One friend said Christopher used to drink but quit, and his relationship with Jeanett was "opposites attract."

He described Jeanett as bubbly, outgoing, loud and fun, and Christopher as fairly quiet.

A friend of Candy's from graduate school told CBS 6 she loved to travel, was very outgoing, and a genuine person who would do anything for anyone.

According to court records, Christopher Gattis was charged with public intoxication in 2010 but the charge was waived.

He was also charged with assault and battery in 2012, but that charge was dismissed, according to court records.

Gattis, who is being held without bond at Riverside Regional Jail, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Grace Lutheran Church released a statement Friday afternoon:

Members of Grace Lutheran Church are deeply saddened by the loss of life last night as a result of three individuals being shot in Chester and this tragedy included members of Grace Lutheran Church. Grace Lutheran Church has experienced many hardships over the years, but this heartbreak has unique challenges. Grace Lutheran Church asks for the prayers from the community as our congregation begins the process of addressing the grief being experienced by everyone involved.

Anyone with information that could help investigators is asked to call Chesterfield County Police Department at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.

Neighbor heard shot

Neighbors said everyone on the block is close-knit and that many of them knew the victims and the suspect.

One neighbor said that when heard a gunshot last night, police were already on the scene by the time he came outside. He said he then saw a man's body and the suspect in handcuffs.

Neighbor Mike Brown was stunned by the tragedy and said the suspect was a friend and a gentle man.

"We were all friends. We hang out sometimes [and] cook out in the back,” neighbor Mike Brown said. "I mean every time I see them, they're always the same way. [I] had no clue that they were having problems that I knew of, but behind closed doors is behind closed doors."



Watch 'The Jennifer Hudson Show' weekdays at 3 p.m. on CBS 6!

📱 Download CBS 6 News App
The app features breaking news alerts, live video, weather radar, traffic incidents, closings and delays and more.