Triple-murder suspect’s surviving son: ‘When he died, I felt like I died’

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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.



  • todd

    wow wtvr you go after a child having been through this for a story?what wont you do.and who aloud this to take place?

    • Mays

      Did you even read the article? Obviously not. It says that the boy REACHED OUT to the News Station. Not the other way around.

      • Dan

        Actually, the media receives calls all the time from people involved in a story. They have no obligation to run a story because someone wants to speak with the media. This is just low-level journalism and despicable tactics. The story–as presented above–contains almost no meaningful news. It is all just fodder for the public to “gape at the car accident and see more gore.” Serves no other purpose journalistically. But news outlets will run morsels for days to get viewership from the curious masses.
        Oh, and please, can we dispatch with the hackneyed, media-created term “reached out”? The word is “contacted,” but “reach out” sounds so emotionally meaningful and sanitary. The boy contacted, left messages with, called, e-mailed, spoke with, etc.

    • sw

      I agree Mays…Todd couldn’t have read the whole article. Or just skimmed over it. My heart goes out to this little boy. He loved his father and now his father has left him with this mess to deal with and him having to defend his dad. It’s heartbreaking.

    • Debbie Martin

      My thoughts exactly!! It’s ridiculous. Let the story go and let this family start having some peace and heal. I posted that on my Facebook just last night after yet another article

    • Brandon

      maybe you should try reading….it helps, “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.”
      If you are going to waste your time commenting, at least do it intelligently

  • Melissa

    I hope all the people that bashed this man are happy that they are all bringing even more pain to a 12 yr old boy who just had his world turned upside down.

    • Kristina Hooper

      He will feel more pain than you can imagine…..bashing or not….he will be aware of the selfish act his father committed. Better to start helping him deal with it now than when he realizes the truth later.

  • Amy

    Being a parent of a child who will eventually read the cruel words on the internet that portray his father as a monster because if the decisions he made and paid the ultimate price for, I feel so bad for this little guy! While I was not close to this family I did know them considering everyone in Dinwiddie knows each other lol, but from a parents stand point being faced with a situation that could truly be damaging to your child’s self imagine I pray the idiots on the internet will think a little more before they speak! I can’t imagine the pain both side of this family are going through but there is an innocent child still with us, notated what choice his father made he needs to know his fathers actions will never describe who he is as a person and he can conquer the world with hardwork, this child is begging people to stop with the negativity, please as adults lets all think about this innocent child because notated what, this will always be his Dad, his Step Mom, his baby brother and his sister that are gone from him! I pray for him that he does not allow this situation to define his future he is not a monster, some may get mad that I say this but his father wasn’t a monster, he was obviously a man with to much to bear and unfortunately felt no other way out, I do not condone what he done and pray for peace to all involved but I do believe the so called “friends” blasting this man out on Facebook that claims to Love this family so much needs to focus their love on Christopher, he is the one who lost everything here! Keep your head up little man, this world has great things in store for you!

    • shari

      I am sorry if you knew the family, but this guy was a monster and freedom of speech gives us a right to say whatever we feel when we read a news article… Now I do feel bad for the little boy, but i can promise once he gets older he will realize it was totally wrong for his dad to do this and the dad was not a good person.. This makes me sick when people try to justify a killing

  • Kristina Hooper

    Even with his mother’s permission, this little boy has just begun a long painful journey. The story should not have been aired. Counseling is what he needs. I wonder……..did the reporters offer to find him the help that he will need??! Or did they get their story and go on their way?!?! If his mother wanted to help him, she might have thought about seeking counseling before letting him share his story because, at this point, he is in shock, had no idea the reprocussions of his father’a actions. He is being put in the spotlight. This does not protect him from hearing the negative things being said about his father!!!! It does the exact opposite. Poor choice made in this instance. I would have never allowed my child to be exploited after the murder of his sisters. But the story is what matters. I truly hope he gets the help he needs as quickly as possible. So unbelievably tragic for him!!!!

  • krista

    In view of the fact that the CHILD reached out to the news station, it is obvious he feels strongly about this tragedy and needed to speak out. His speaking out and getting his concerns off his chest is a form of healing in and of itself. He is a brave young man and he has my utmost respect.

  • Marie

    It’s some racist people on this site because if this man was black the focus would not be on the victims like in this case where everyone is sending their condolences and saying how sad this is (like they should). If he was black, the focus would be on the culprit, not the victim. It’ll all be about how black people are this and that. A bunch of stereotypical stuff.

  • Kathy

    This young man is experiencing a pain that many will Thankfully never have to deal with. However he will be dealing with this the rest of his life, he did not ask for this. At such a young age he is beginning the healing process and reaching out to his community in the only way he knows how, with his mother’s consent. He acknowledges that what happened is wrong, he had no advanced knowledge and if he had he would have acted. But with all that being that man was that little boy’s Daddy and he is in mourning.. he’s asking for a little compassion.. let’s be courteous and respectful of this young man’s struggle/journey he didn’t just lose his Daddy, he lost his baby brother, sister and step-mom.

  • Coni

    Seriously, the race card got pulled for this story?? WOW Marie! Don’t know what world you come from, but in my world a Human Being is a Human Being. It’s people like you that keep racism alive. Always complaining about race, yet always the first to bring it up.

    • Kim

      Obviously, you don’t know the meaning if the race card being pulled. What she was saying is that humans are humans so the same comments should apply from story to story regardless of race when its the same crime but they don’t on this site. People like her don’t keep racism alive, the things racist people do keep our alive. What, you expect racist things to happen and no one point it out?

  • Michelle

    I feel bad for the little boy but if he was there I’m sure he would be dead too. He surely needs counseling but the fact still remains that his father committed a terrible act & it is what it is. Little guy needs to count his blessings. Prayers go out to him and I hope he finds peace.

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