Gang ties suspected in quadruple murder

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ENFIELD — Investigators say the killings of a former Wilson hairdresser and her husband and another couple in a Halifax County home nearly two months could be gang-related.

On Monday, Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp released new details in the cases of Peggy Jo Whitley, 67, and her husband, 76-year James Whitley, and another married couple, 72-year-old Janice Harris and 88-year-old James Harris, were found shot to death after an apparent home invasion.

“We have reason to believe these cases are gang-related and the residence was specifically targeted,” Tripp said in a statement. “We have collected evidence, some of which is forensic evidence.”

The sheriff’s office continues to investigate the case with the help of N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Enfield Police Department.


Peggy Jo, who was well known in Wilson, retired from Ross McDaniel Salon two years ago. She worked at the salon for more than a decade, commuting to Wilson from Enfield.

On Aug. 20, deputies responded to 980 Fishing Creek Road outside Enfield in the Glenview community near N.C. 48 and the Nash County line. Deputies found the homeowners, James and Janice Harris, along with the Whitleys. The couples had been shot multiple times, according to state officials.

The victims had been shot through a glass door and killed while they sat playing cards at the dining room table, according to the governor’s office. Robbery appears to be the motive, state officials said.

Halifax County sheriff’s officials have said there were no signs of a struggle but that there were signs of forced entry and there were items missing from the Harris home.

Peggy Jo, who grew up in Bailey, was a hairdresser here for more than 40 years. She had previously owned her own salon in Wilson called the Golden Comb.


A more than $51,000 reward is still offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible in the slayings. Gov. Roy Cooper offered a $20,000 reward less than a week after the couples were killed.

An additional $31,000 reward is offered through the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office and includes private donations.

Anyone with information in this case should contact the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office at 252-583-8201, CrimeStoppers at 252-583-4444 or the State Bureau of Investigation at 919-777-8188.