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Popular Thomas Dale teacher found dead inside his pet store

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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR)—Close friends of Thomas Dale biology teacher Vinny Ferraiolo confirmed to CBS 6 that the teacher was found dead inside the exotic pet store he has owned for years.

The call came in from a neighboring business around 12:30 p.m. Friday and police discovered Ferraiolo dead inside his shop, Off the Ark.

Friends tell us that he is survived by his wife, and five children, one he recently adopted from Haiti.

Students and staff will return to school on Monday, but they will not be without support from the school.

"The Thomas Dale High School crisis team met today to discuss the structure for making support services available to students and staff when school reopens Monday," Shawn Smith, Spokesman, Chesterfield Schools, said.

It quickly became clear on social media that Mr. Ferraiolo was very respected by his students. As the news spread, the Thomas Dale Knights were seen tweeting their condolences.

Ferraiolo had excellent reviews--going back to 2003--on the website Rate My Teachers, which allows students to explain the highs and lows of their classroom experience.

“He inspired me to do something more, and to become a teacher myself,” a student wrote in October 2011.

“He is cool too. He talks to people about problems and helps them out,” another student wrote.

Police said this is an ongoing death investigation, and have said they do not suspect foul play.

There will be a candlelight vigil in front of the Off the Ark, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 5.

CBS 6 has interviewed Ferraiolo several times in the past few years (click the video below for his interview on VTM).


  • derek fiorello

    rip bud you will e missed thanks for everything that you have for me in the past school and my pet shop graduation and all great teacher great exotic pet specialist most of all a friend to his students

  • Alisha

    ive never met this man but ive heard so much about him due to the fact my sister is an employee of his at off the ark. its sad to hear and i know he’ll be missed



  • Amber Seay

    I knew Vinny through the owning of multiple reptiles and he is the only one I trusted with any of my scaled babies! He was a big advocate for all of us reptile owners and he will sorely missed in my home!! My thoughts and prayers go to his family in their time of grievance!

  • tianca

    MR.F was the coolest teacher I eva known he taught me alot throught the year he never gave no one a hard time he is my favorite teacher ever.R.I.P MR.F

  • Kaitlyn Cash

    I’ve known Vinny for a couple years now just being a regular customer of his at his animal shop. I’ve also been to a few of his animal shows which he always seemed he had a deep passion for. I remember when i also took my daughter to the Pocahontas state park halloween event in 2012 and Vinny brought an alligator their to teach all the little children about. My daughter thought that was the coolest thing & Besides candy, definitely made her night.
    Vinny was a very nice guy and a great person to know. I will never look at his shop the same without him although his employees are very nice themself. I will continue to remain a loyal customer and May Vinny keep his presence alive at off the ark
    rest in peace

  • Christopher Harris

    This is very hard for me as I spoke to Vinny just a few weeks ago and I wanted him to know I was about to try opening a reptile observatory in Houston Texas and would need his insight on so many things in the business. Vinny has been a long time friend to and he is missed. Even though I moved to Texas, I had been staying in touch. Vinny was a better person than this world can offer. He was one of a kind. I will miss him.

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