PETERSBURG, Va. -- The man accused of killing a Tri-Cities family and setting their Hardy Street home ablaze appeared twice via video link in Petersburg court Friday. WTVR CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil said what he witnessed in Petersburg General District Court and Circuit Court was unlike any previous courtroom proceedings he has covered.
Alexander Hill Jr., the suspect who eluded police for more than a year before he was captured in a homeless shelter in Buffalo, New York, sat motionless and silent via video link during both court appearances. But Hill's lack of participation did not stop either judge from moving the case forward.
Family members said that seeing the man accused of murdering four generations of one family for the first time since the crime in April 2014 made them feel one step closer to justice.
"It was hard listening to them read each one of the charges out," victims' family member Raymond Washington. "A lot of emotions, just he never will hold his head up and that's the sad part of it."
When Alexander Hill refused to take part or participate in both court proceedings, he was strapped into a special chair at Riverside Regional Jail.
"Because these are necessary procedures -- and the gravity of the charges -- the court instructed Riverside to bring him in there and to do what they needed to do to make sure that this proceeding was done," Petersburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Cassandra Conover said.
Conover said she was not surprised by Alexander Hill's demeanor, but for family members still struggling with the loss, it was frustrating.
"Like it didn't even bother him," Washington said. "He never hold his head up, he held his head down like he really didn't care."
That same scenario was repeated during Friday afternoon's Circuit Court hearing.
"He did not waive his right. You have to have a council appointed," Conover said.
Washington was the last family member to speak with Hill before the murders.
"'You tell that blank blank, I'm gonna get her and everything that she loves,' And that's the last I heard from Mr Hill," Washington said.
Hill is scheduled to appear in Petersburg General District Court on Sept. 25. That's when more charges are expected to be announced.
Massive Amount of Evidence
Officials previously said that Hill will likely face numerous additional charges and a lengthy court trial.
Conover said that the case against Hill "cannot be rushed" and will likely change over the next few months since he may face multiple new charges, including arson. She said that Hill could also face capital murder charges.
Conover pointed out that the case against Hill will involve a massive amount of evidence gathered at the crime scene and the victims’ causes of death.
“We have difference types of deaths involved in this case,” Connover said.”The stabbing versus the suffocation with inhalation of smoke.”
Hill is charged in the deaths of 67-year-old Pauline Wilkins, 46-year-old Vicki Chavis-Ansar, 22-year-old Tanique Chavis and two-year-old Delvari Chavis.
Hill had been on the run for just over a year before he was captured by US Marshals at a Buffalo, New York church on Thursday morning.
US Marshals noted that during the time Hill was on the run, he did not have any help from his family in Virginia or in Texas since he had been estranged from relatives for years before the murders.
Suspect Captured at Buffalo Mission
Hill had been living and working at the church in Buffalo for the past month, according to the U.S. Marshals. Hill was arrested at St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy Thursday morning. A man, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted Buffalo television station WIVB after seeing a story about Hill’s arrest. The volunteer opened up about his experiences with Hill over the past month.
The volunteer said he had no idea Hill was accused of murdering four generations of one family inside a Petersburg home in April 2014.
“After a while, he was helping out at the church, and the church has a homeless shelter for women and children. And reading about what he did, especially with that two year old, it broke my heart,” the man said. “He seemed like an honest person. He seemed like a family person. He talked about his family. He said he was a family guy. He had a girlfriend.”
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