West Precinct Commander Marlene Pardue had never seen anything like what her department experienced in 2012. Two triple murders in the West Precinct occurred a little more than a month apart, stunning neighborhoods and straining Metro Nashville Police Department resources.
“I’ve been with the department for 24 years and in that time, I only remember a couple of doubles,” Pardue said. “I know there has been one more triple a couple of years ago. But that’s all I can remember. It’s very unusual.”
In the first case, 41-year-old Craig Garber broke into his neighbor’s house in Bellevue on Sept. 2 and killed a 14-year-old boy, his mother and grandmother. Garber and Michelle Pintowski, one of the victims, had been acquaintances, according to authorities. Police discovered Garber at the scene with apparent self-inflicted knife wounds. He is in jail on $1 million bond.
Conversely, questions still remain about the triple murder on Maxon Avenue in West Nashville. Patrick Sullivan, 56, his wife, Deborah Sullivan, 48, and their daughter, Wendy Sullivan, were all found dead on Oct. 22. Police believe the killings to be drug-related.
Lorenzo Jenkins, 39, was arrested in connection with the case in November after DNA evidence from the scene allegedly linked him to the crime. However, police have not ruled out the possibility of other people being involved, and the case is still considered open.
Pardue said both scenes involved extensive work and presented different challenges.
“For the first triple, we had a suspect identified pretty quickly. But you still had to do all the background investigation on that. Who is he? Why would he have done that? What is his family history? Did we miss anything? We look at all those kinds of things,” Pardue said.
“Then, having a suspect that you don’t know. That’s just unbelievable, the amount of hours. But that’s like any homicide. If you don’t have a suspect on the front end then you’re having to interview a lot of people.”
The police also spent days meticulously collecting evidence on both cases. The scene in Bellevue took four days to process.
“These both were extensive crime scenes because it wasn’t just confined to one room. The first one it was throughout the house. In the second, [a body was found] outside in the shed,” Pardue said. “With every square foot of evidence, you’re magnifying the amount of manpower that you’re going to be using.”
In addition to the identification units and detectives processing the evidence, normal patrol officers also had to keep watch to make sure the scene was secure.
And while some of the strains on the department from the triple murders are still being felt, Pardue recognizes the real victims.
“Any homicide is tragic,” Pardue said. “Everybody is somebody’s son or daughter or mom or dad.”