Nearly two years have passed since Jerome and Dora Faulkner were ambushed and killed inside their rural Granville County home by what prosecutors have described as a father-and-son team who selected the retirees at random while on the run from Texas authorities.
Eric Alexander Campbell, son of the late Edward Campbell, is facing the death penalty in a crime spree that made national headlines after it ended in West Virginia in a shootout with deputies.
In a court document associated with a hearing set for Tuesday in Granville County Superior Court, Amos Tyndall, a Chapel Hill attorney representing the younger Campbell, provided details of a multi-state crime spree in which Eric Campbell reportedly was so afraid of his father that he could not extricate himself from his grip.
In the request to take capital punishment off the table for Eric Campbell, Tyndall described Edward Campbell as a tyrant parent who abused drugs and manufactured methamphetamines, held his children upside down and beat them, shot the family dog and beat up his wife so viciously that she escaped him late one night while he slept.
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“When Eric was prescribed Adderral for ADHD as a child,” the court document states, “Edward Campbell took all the pills for himself.”
Edward Campbell, 54, died in March 2015 when officials at Central Prison found him unresponsive in his cell after he had attempted to hang himself.
That left Eric Campbell, now 23, to stand alone on two counts of murder, as well as charges of first-degree burglary, second-degree arson and identity theft. He also was charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, larceny of a motor vehicle, financial card theft and two counts of cruelty to animals – charges stemming from the spear-deaths of the Faulkners’ two dogs.
The court document details a crime spree that began in Brezoria County, Texas, in September 2014 after Edward Campbell was arrested for severely assaulting his wife after believing she was cheating on him.
In that incident, according to court documents, Holly Campbell told law enforcement officers that her husband threatened to shoot her in front of their children and held her hostage for hours – beating her, choking her and continually threatening her.
After being released from jail on bond in that case, Edward Campbell skipped a court date, stole a 2007 Chevy Suburban from a school and left Texas with Eric on Christmas Eve of 2014, telling his adult son they were going camping.
The men made it across the southern United States to Georgia in four days. They stopped at an Advanced Auto Parts for a new alternator in Suwanee, Ga., on Dec. 28, 2014. Later that day, they stopped in a Home Depot in Greenville, S.C., purchasing a sprayer, muriatic acid, drain opener, lighter fluid, a chain, padlock, jam nut and U bolt.
They camped for a few days near Hillsborough, and are seen on surveillance footage of a Wal-Mart buying food. The two then headed north, according to the court document, with the elder Campbell telling his son they would do some camping further north.
During that drive, Edward Campbell told his son that he needed money and planned to rob a house by putting lye in the sprayer he had just purchased and threatening his victims.
Knock on the door
Jerome Faulkner, 73, of Oak Hill, a retired fire chief with the Cornwall Volunteer Fire Department in nearby Oxford, was at his roadside mailbox near dusk that evening when Edward Campbell saw him. Edward Campbell, according to the defense team, then told his son to drive to a wooded area near the Faulkners’ home, and they waited until a little after sunset.
Edward Campbell, according to his son’s lawyers, got out of the Chevy Suburban with a backpack sprayer filled with lye and a crossbow. Eric was handed a bag with a spear that broke into three sections. The two men headed toward the back of the Faulkners’ house.
Edward Campbell then knocked on the door, while Eric Campbell stood near the corner of the house, according to the defense lawyers. When Jerome Faulkner answered, the elder Campbell said he had car trouble and when Faulkner opened the door, he sprayed lye in his face.
Edward Campbell pushed further inside, and Eric, according to the defense team, could hear the Faulkners screaming for help. After five minutes or so, Edward Campbell came outside and reprimanded his son for not coming inside, according to his lawyers.
The Faulkners were lying on the floor, injured from the crossbow “and perhaps other weapons,” when Eric joined his father inside.
“Eric’s father removed the spear from the bag he had given Eric and beat the victims, demanding their bank information,” according to the court filing.
Edward Campbell, according to his son’s lawyers, then stabbed the Faulkners, killing them. He then killed the two dogs with a spear and began searching the house while ordering his son to search for bank account records and other valuables.
The father and son then loaded property from the home into the couple’s truck and the vehicle they had come in. They put the bodies in the truck, too, then early the next morning torched the home with lamp oil and papers – leaving behind a fire that bewildered the community.
“The killings of Jerome and Dora Faulkner are a senseless tragedy,” Tyndall and William Durham, a lawyer with the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, argued in their request to abandon the death penalty. “...The statements of Eric Campbell establish that he did not intend the deaths of the Faulkners or assault them during the crime. His participation was limited to mere presence during the killings, fear of his father, and participation in the thefts after the death – at the urgings of his homicidal abusive father.”
If the judge in Granville County refuses to grant the defense team’s request, Granville County could soon begin its first capital punishment case since 1991.