Whitingham murder suspect held without bail | Local News | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

BRATTLEBORO — A man accused of killing a 79-year-old Whitingham woman and her 52-year-old son by shooting them in their home on Route 8A is being held without bail. 

Christopher D. Ellis, 54, pleaded not guilty through his attorney Wednesday to two counts of first-degree murder and an additional charge of operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent. He was arraigned in Windham Superior Court, Criminal Division. 

Judge John Treadwell ordered Ellis held without bail. Treadwell said the court would not schedule a weight of the evidence hearing until requested by the defense counsel. 

Attorney Joshua Atkisson of the Windham County Public Defender’s Office did not contest the state’s request to hold Ellis without bail. He said he would reserve the right to have a weight of the evidence hearing at a future date. 

In a police affidavit, Ellis described the murders as his “retirement plan.” He told investigators “he would rather be in jail than an ‘old folks’ home’ [describing] what he did as ‘calculated.'”

“I did what I did, so I’m going to, you know, I have no problem with admitting it,” Ellis said during an interview with the Vermont State Police late on the evening of Sept. 1, according to a police affidavit. “I mean, it was, it had to happen. I don’t know, I know you probably won’t understand it.”

According to the affidavit submitted to the court by Vermont State Police Det. Sgt. James Vooris, the investigation began on Sept. 1 after Troopers received a report at just before 11 p.m. of a male covered in blood, a missing woman and a missing truck.

Upon arrival, troopers discovered the body of Michael Garvin in the living room of the home and the body of his mother, Lucy, in the bathroom. The bodies were initially found by a family member, who told investigators Ellis had been living in the house for “at least a few months.”

Later that night, Ellis was located driving the truck on Putney Road by officers with the Brattleboro Police Department and taken into custody. He told investigators he had been living with the Garvins since April and shot them “either Wednesday or Thursday [Aug. 30 or 31], sometime between 12:00 and 2:00 p.m.,” according to the affidavit. 

“Ellis advised he first shot Michael twice, while he was in the area of the couch in the living room,” wrote Vooris. “Ellis then shot Lucy one time while she was in the bathroom. Ellis explained he returned to Michael and shot him additional times, until the firearm was empty.”

Ellis blamed his actions on “the psychological and mental abuse” of living with the Garvins, states the affidavit. Ellis said he traveled to Holyoke, Mass., on Sept. 1 and sold the firearm for $150, using the cash to purchase crack cocaine.

“Ellis advised he has not slept since the incident and was continually using crack cocaine,” wrote Vooris. 

During the interview, Ellis said he had met Michael Garvin in jail. However, a spokesman for the Vermont Department of Corrections said their records show the two men were not cellmates and had been housed at different facilities at different times.

Ellis also described Garvin as a child molester and sex offender. Garvin was convicted in 1994 of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child and sexual assault of a minor.

Garvin is not on the sex offender registry. Some offenders, after a certain amount of time, can be removed from the registry if they do not have a record of reoffending.

“Ellis advised he has been thinking about killing Michael for a few weeks,” wrote Vooris, and that Michael Garvin, who he said he hated “…just has to go.”

Ellis also said “it was unfortunate” that Michael’s mother was at the house but “she had to go …” too.

According to information from the Department of Corrections, neither Ellis nor Garvin were still under the supervision of Probation and Parole. Ellis had finished his sentence on Aug. 9, 2019, and Garvin had maxed out his sentence in 1999.

Ellis has previous felony convictions for unlawful mischief in 1989, grand larceny in 1994, burglary and grand larceny in 1996, escaping custody in 1999 and possession of stolen property in 2015.

In 2018, Ellis was facing a possible life sentence as a habitual offender after he was charged with trying to rob a woman. He faced charges of aggravated assault with a box cutter, assault and robbery with injury, reckless endangerment and leaving the scene of a crash with serious injury. It is unclear how those charges were settled.

VSP was aided by the Wilmington Police Department in the initial response to the scene and the Brattleboro Police Department in apprehending the suspect. 

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