A Winston-Salem man admitted to investigators in January that he killed an elderly King man and took the body to his grandparents’ land in southern Virginia to hide it, according to a search warrant in the case.

Christian Lang Willard, 20, of Gordy Trail talked to investigators in the Winston-Salem Police Department on Jan. 19, the search warrant says. Arzell Tuttle, 86, was killed in his house at 761 E. King St. sometime between Jan. 9 and Jan. 10, King police said.

An autopsy was performed on Tuttle’s body at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, but its results haven’t been publicly released.

Willard is charged with the first-degree murder in connection with Tuttle’s death. Willard was being held Monday in the Stokes County Jail in Danbury with no bond allowed. He is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

James “J.D.” Byers of Winston-Salem, Willard’s attorney, said that he was unaware of the circumstances that statements were made to investigators.

Byers said that the agent with the State Bureau of Investigation who submitted an affidavit with Willard's statements to a Carroll County, Va. magistrate was not subjected to a court hearing or cross examination. The magistrate issued the search warrant in the case.

District Attorney Ricky Bowman of Stokes County couldn’t be reached Monday to comment about the case.

According to the search warrant, Willard told the detectives that Tuttle’s body could be seen from the driveway of either 258 Forest Haven Drive or 262 Forest Haven Drive in Fancy Gap, Va.

No one was living at either house at the time, police said.

Willard’s grandparents, Billie Gray Gordy and Margie Gordy, own houses at both addresses, according to the warrant. Willard showed investigators a map of where Tuttle’s body was on his grandparents’ property.

“Willard told investigators that the body was not concealed,” the warrant says.

Tuttle was last seen Jan. 8, and a Silver Alert was issued for him on Jan. 12. His body was found Jan. 16, about 42 miles from his house in King, authorities said at the time.

At the site on Forest Haven Drive, investigators found charred human remains, 11 zip ties, a burned black piece of cloth, black fabric, three bottles, burned clothing, a pocket knife, bones from the burned area, and a pipe wrench, according to the warrant.

Chief Jordan Boyette of King Police Department said he and other investigators have met with the Stokes County District Attorney’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation to determine if anyone else will be charged in the case.

“We are waiting on some evidence results that has been submitted to the SBI lab, and some final follow-up to bring back to the (district attorney),” Boyette said.

The case has been complex, involving several law enforcement agencies, including Stokes and Forsyth County sheriff’s offices, Winston-Salem, Greensboro and King police departments, the N.C. Highway Patrol, the SBI and law enforcement officers in Virginia.

Police also haven’t released a motive in Tuttle’s killing. Willard told investigators that he had known Tuttle since Willard was in the ninth grade, the warrant said.

Investigators also executed a search warrant at Tuttle’s home in King.

Tuttle’s home was in disarray when police searched it on Jan. 11. Several drawers in his bedroom were open, there was no blanket or quilt on the bed and no trash bag liner in the trash can in the kitchen. In addition, there were several red spots that appeared to be blood inside the garage, and the presence of bleach was detected inside the house and garage. Tuttle’s rifle was also missing from the house, the warrant said.

Two vehicles were instrumental in this case: One, a PT Cruiser, belonged to Tuttle and was the first clue that he was missing. It was found burning in Winston-Salem on Jan. 11. According to the search warrant, blood was found inside the vehicle.

On Jan. 13, King police said they were searching for two people in a silver Pontiac Grand Prix that was spotted near the Cruiser. It was found on Jan. 16 on Leo Street in Winston-Salem, the same day Willard was arrested. He was not one of the people in the vehicle.

Get today’s top stories right in your inbox. Sign up for our daily morning newsletter.

jhinton@wsjournal.com 336-727-7299 @jhintonWSJ

Recommended for you

Load comments