WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Families of Christmas Eve murder victims 'hope justice will be served'

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Patricia Outland was relieved Monday that an arrest was made in her brother's killing. But it still doesn't end the emotional toll it's taken on her and other family members in recent months.

"It's a relief they have found someone," Outland told The Wilson Times on Tuesday. "This past eight months has been a nightmare, and it still is. If there is more than one person I am hoping they will find them, too." 

Patricia's brother, 47-year-old Selby Gene Outland, was one of four people who were shot to death inside a Banks Lane home on Christmas Eve. The Wilson County Sheriff's Office announced Monday it had obtained warrants on 29-year-old Dereck Eugene Harris of Wilson in connection to the slayings. 

He now faces four counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Outland, 54-year-old Tammy Lynnette Pearce, 28-year-old Paul Shane Pearce and 23-year-old Dominique Nicole Privette. 

Tammy and Paul Pearce were mother and son, and Outland and Privette, respectively, were their significant others. 

Harris is currently in the Wilson County Jail without bond, said Wanda Samuel, sheriff's office chief of staff. His first court appearance is slated for Friday. 

Wilson County sheriff's deputies transported Harris to Wilson Tuesday from a North Carolina prison, where he was serving an eight-month sentence for a probation violation and misdemeanor charges, officials said. He was arrested on Jan. 12 for that probation violation, according to the sheriff's office. 

'WE HOPE JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED'

Patricia Outland said she has been praying and relying on her faith over the past several months. 

"We are happy about the arrest," she said. "It's not going to bring our family members back. But we hope justice will be served. We hope they will find everyone who is involved. We just don't want this to happen to anyone else." 

Outland said she has been in contact with family members of the other victims as well. She said it has been an emotional roller coaster. 

Neighbors reportedly heard gunshots around 1 a.m. on Christmas Eve. Nearly 12 hours later, the victims' family members found bloodshed inside the home in the 2200 block of Banks Lane and called 911. 

All four were found shot to death inside Tammy Pearce's home, which is situated east of U.S. 301 off N.C. 42 East just outside the city limits. Some were shot multiple times, including Privette, who was shot nine times, according to their autopsy reports. They were all found in four separate rooms. The front door was also kicked in, officials said. 

Harris was known to some of the victims, Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard told the Times. He also said the motive was due to a drug debt that involved Harris and one of the victims. He declined to say which victim. 

Woodard said Harris was a person of interest shortly after the shootings. Detectives have spent countless hours on the case, following leads, conducting interviews and discovering evidence. 

Officials are still actively working the case. And Woodard vowed that he would not stop until "everybody is held accountable for this crime." 

Harris is known to have gang affiliations in Wilson, officials said. But it has not been determined if that affiliation had anything to do with the killings, according to the sheriff's office. 

'WE WERE SHOCKED'

Patricia Outland said her brother was outgoing and a good person. 

"He was a very simple man," she said. "He liked the simple things in life." 

She said that no matter what happened in her brother's life, he remained positive. He also loved his children. 

"They were his pride and joy," she said. 

Patricia Outland said when she and other family members were informed about the deaths, she initially thought it was a car wreck. She said they weren't prepared to find out her brother and the others were shot to death. 

"We had no idea it was this," she said. "We were shocked." 

She said while emotions were stirred again with the news of the arrest, she was grateful to investigators who have worked around the clock on the case. 

"The detective has been awesome working with our family," she said. "We just can't thank him enough with all the help and assistance he's given us." Official ask anyone with information regarding this case to contact the Wilson County Sheriff's Office at 252-237-2118.

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