Suspect in Halifax quadruple murder was out on bond at time of killings

ENFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) – A 25-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the murder of four people in Halifax County in August, the county sheriff confirms.

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UPDATE: Halifax quadruple murder suspect denied bond at first court appearance

Matthew Simms, 25, of Enfield, faces four counts of first-degree murder, Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp said. Simms is being held without bond and is scheduled to appear in court Friday.

Investigators have said two married couples had been sitting around a kitchen table playing cards when they were killed sometime between Aug. 20 and 21.

James Harris was killed along with his wife and two others.

Simms was taken into custody in early September after failing to appear at a June 15 court date on a murder charge, Tripp said.

Simms was charged in the June 22, 2015 death of Jarhamel Cambridge, of Enfield. He also faced a felony probation violation charge after originally being charged with possession of a firearm by convicted felon.

According to court documents, Simms was arrested on Nov. 19, 2015 in Cambridge’s murder and given a $100,000 secured bond with electronic monitoring on Feb. 17, 2016. His bond was reduced to $20,000 unsecured on May 18, 2016. Simms was able to bond out and then failed to appear in court on June 15 of this year. A judge then ordered a $100,000 secured bond, records show. On Sept. 7, Simms was served with arrest papers for failure to appear in court and was arrested. Simms has been jailed since that point and has had his bond raised to $500,000 secured.

Simms was charged with quadruple murder on Oct. 26. The 2015 murder charge was never dropped. Current files on this case are sealed.

Tripp said his office has been receiving help from the SBI, FBI, ATF and the Enfield Police Department.

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Tripp said evidence, including forensic evidence, has been collected that led investigators to believe the murder was “gang-related.”

ATF records show Harris ran a gunsmithing business out of his home.

According to an ATF database, J and J Gunsmithing was a federally licensed firearm business as of July 2017. The gunsmithing business was registered to Harris at the same address where the killings occurred.

The other victims were identified as Janice Harris, 72, James Whitley, 76, and Peggy Whitley, 67.

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