TAZEWELL, Va. — An argument over money apparently led Christopher Dean Looney to kill his parents at the Pizza Plus in Claypool Hill more than five years ago.
Looney pleaded no contest Wednesday to two counts of capital murder-robbery in Tazewell County Circuit Court. Judge Jack S. Hurley Jr. found Looney guilty and imposed two life sentences without the possibility of parole.
The plea and sentence were part of an agreement that removed the death penalty from consideration. Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis Lee said the family of victims Harvey Dean Looney and Valerie Looney asked that he not be put to death.
Tazewell County Sheriff’s Capt. Neil Turley testified during the hearing that the bodies were found March 30, 2009, when a day-shift employee opened the store. He said 200 interviews were conducted and 175 pieces of evidence sent to the lab over four years in an effort to solve the case.
While there was no physical evidence implicating him, Sheriff Brian Hieatt said statements he made and other factors kept Looney at the top of the suspect list. The court heard a 29-minute portion of an interview Turley and another detective conducted with Looney on Feb. 13, 2013.
In that statement, the 33-year-old said he went to the Pizza Plus around 10:30 or 11 p.m. on March 29, 2009, to ask his parents for money. He said an argument ensued and he used a pocket knife to cut his mother on the neck and throat.
He said she fought him and his father came to her assistance. He told the court that after subduing his father with a choke hold and leaving him outside the restaurant on the ground he went back inside and finished killing his mother by beating her in the head with a fire extinguisher.
He told Turley after that he went back outside to cut his father’s throat to “make sure he was gone” and took the bank bags and left. He said he threw away the knife, the gloves he wore, and after removing the cash ,threw away the bank bag.
He said the car he drove that night was sent to the junkyard by his girlfriend after he left it sitting in front of her house.
Teresa Layne, a victim witness coordinator from the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, read a statement from the family that described how much they miss the couple and how they could not believe their son committed the murders. The statement talked about how much Dean Looney loved his son and said he gave him everything he wanted.
In the statement, Dean Looney’s sister said she is still bothered by the thought of her brother lying in the cold in the parking lot dying alone. The family also talked of not being able to go to a grave to mourn because Chris Looney had his parents cremated and has not told anyone what was done with the remains.
Sheriff Hiatt said following the hearing that detectives are still talking with Chris Looney to try to locate the remains.
Defense attorneys offered no evidence or statements during the hearing.
Looney, who appeared to be crying on the tape, showed no emotion when the tape was played and spoke clearly to the court. He told the judge that he understood the plea and had nothing to say.