The son of the suspect in a triple murder on Father’s Day contacted CBS 6 reporter Jake Burns multiple times to share his side of the story. Burns received permission from the boy’s mother for the interview.
DINWIDDIE, Va. — Twelve-year-old Chris Jernigan only has pictures to remember his father by. He was carrying a hand full of them around on Wednesday, as he spoke about his father for the first time since he committed suicide.
According to police, Barry Jernigan killed his wife, nine-year-old step daughter, and two-year-old son before shooting himself on Father’s Day.
Barry Jernigan had Chris prior to his marriage to Renotta Jernigan; however, the 12-year-old said he spent most weekends at their Fox Maple Terrace home. Chris said he spent most of the day Sunday with his father and noticed nothing out of the ordinary.
“If my dad would have told me before this happened, I would have brought [my brother and step sister] over here,” Chris said. He was dropped off at his biological mother’s house only hours before the violence.
Chris Jernigan contacted CBS 6 because he felt the picture others were painting of his father, especially on social media, were inaccurate.
“I put a post on Facebook yesterday talking about, ‘Ya’ll don’t know my father; you haven’t been around him for 13 years. Could you please be quiet about it? It makes me feel like I’m a monster or something,’” Chris said.
Chris said his father was loving and caring. His mother, Lauren Martin, said Barry Jernigan never threatened to harm Chris, which is why the situation is so shocking.
“When he died, I felt like I got run over by a car, and my heart was torn out my chest,” Chris said.
CBS 6 has learned that Barry Jernigan and his wife, Renotta, had discussed getting a divorce in the days leading up to the shooting. Chris said his father discussed the situation with him on Friday. However, he said his dad was not upset and handled the conversation calmly.
“I said ‘Are you ready for [Renotta] to leave?’ He said, ‘I’m ready for her to be out of my life.’ But he didn’t say anything about what was going to to happen.”
Chris said he has received constant support from friends and family, some of whom live out of state. That still doesn’t fully mask the pain he’s felt since Sunday night.
“When he died, I felt like I just died. I mean, I loved him,”
As CBS 6 crews were leaving his house Tuesday, Chris was still sorting through pictures of his father. He plans to bring them to his father’s funeral.