Two indicted in 2002 murder of Galax student

January 13, 2014

A special Grayson County grand jury has indicted two men in connection with the 2002 murder of 18-year-old Kyle Brandon Billings.

A Galax High School student, Billings was found dead on Oct. 6, 2002, shot in his pickup truck on Rock House Lane in Grayson County.

George Albert Harper III, 40, and Chad Allen Reeves, 33, have been indicted on murder charges and charges of using a firearm in the commission of a felony in Billings’ death, Grayson County officials said Friday.

The indictment alleges Harper and Reeves did, “with malice aforethought, kill and murder” Billings sometime between Oct. 5 and Oct. 6, 2002.

Both suspects are already incarcerated on unrelated convictions. Reeves is serving in a federal prison outside of Virginia. Harper is currently incarcerated in in the state of Virginia on other charges.

Billings’ body was found in the afternoon of October 6, 2002 by passers-by near New River and the cul-de-sac of Rock House Lane, in Grayson County.

His killing sparked a year’s long search for anyone responsible for the killing or for information concerning his murder. The Sheriff’s Office of Grayson County coordinated the investigation and was assisted by the Virginia State Police and other Virginia Sheriff’s Departments and law enforcement agencies from several other states. Over the years, those departments conducted voluminous interviews, and searched for evidence and witnesses related to the crime, Grayson County officials said Friday.

With the development of new leads and information recently coming to light, a Special Investigative Grand Jury was requested by the Commonwealth’s Attorney and impaneled by the Judge of the Grayson County Circuit Court on March 24, 2011. All proceedings by that Grand Jury are sealed and are only available for inspection in limited instances by Court order and pursuant to statute.

The direct indictments were returned on January 3, 2014, after almost three years of meetings, testimony, investigation and deliberation by the Grand Jury, and the indictments remained sealed until steps could be taken to secure the detention of the named defendants.

On January 10, Grayson County Sheriff Richard Vaughan and Grayson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Douglas Vaught forwarded certified copies of the indictments, along with a request that the indictments be filed as detainers against Reeves and Harper by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Virginia Department of Corrections, respectively.

Because Reeves is in Federal custody, outside Virginia, the Virginia charges will not be tried until the completion of his Federal sentence or other special arrangements are made. Reeves would then be returned to Virginia to stand trial on the murder and use of a firearm indictments, Grayson County officials said.

Harper is in custody of the Virginia Department of Corrections, but it is uncertain as to when he will be served and when he would be transferred to the Regional Jail in preparation for trial.

Every unlawful malicious homicide in Virginia is presumed to be murder in the second degree, and the Commonwealth has the burden of elevating it to first degree by proof of premeditation or other statutory enhancing factors. The general indictment for “with malice aforethought, kill and murder” allows the Commonwealth to introduce such evidence which it believes would support a murder in the first degree conviction. The Defendant may present evidence that may be offered to establish innocence, or negate the premeditation, or the presence of malice in the homicide thereby making it a crime of second degree murder or manslaughter.

No trial date has been set. It is not known when a date may be set.