Earl Valentine had just critically injured his ex-wife and killed his namesake son in North Carolina, authorities said. He was somewhere on a dark road, possibly driving to Richmond to kill his former in-laws.
That’s when Valentine went on Facebook and started broadcasting live.
“She lied on me, had warrants taken out on me,” he told the camera early Tuesday, as he divided his gaze between the phone and the road. “She drug me all the way down to nothing. I loved my wife, but she deserved what she had coming.”
In his chilling Facebook livestream, which was later reposted on YouTube, Valentine acknowledged that the violent chain of events he started could end in his own death.
“Pleasure knowing all y’all,” he said. “I’ve been very sick for months. And this is something that I could not help. So I don’t know if I’m gonna make it where I’m going, but if I don’t, I wish all of you a good life.”
Police in Norlina, a town of 1,100 people just south of the North Carolina-Virginia state line, spent Tuesday and Wednesday trying to unravel what caused Valentine allegedly to kick in the door of his ex-wife’s single-story home and open fire — and then admit to the crime on social media.
But more than anything, they wanted to find Earl Valentine.
Authorities from the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service joined local and regional law enforcement agencies in a manhunt stretching from Virginia to South Carolina, Norlina Police Chief Taylor Bartholomew told The Washington Post on Wednesday afternoon.
Within hours, authorities located Valentine at a motel in Columbia, S.C., about 280 miles south of Norlina.
Officials said Valentine committed suicide after being surrounded. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
“He shot himself in the head,” Bartholomew told CBS affiliate WLTX. “Think he felt the pressure of being surrounded by marshals. He died alone. At the end of the day, he is a coward.”
Hours earlier, Bartholomew said he had talked to Valentine on the phone; the Norlina police chief described the suspected killer as “cold and callous,” saying he showed no remorse for the shootings.
“For somebody that had just done something like that, he was calm but he was aggressive,” Bartholomew told The Post on Wednesday. “He was trying to pump me for information. His main focus was to make sure his ex-wife was dead.”
Bartholomew quoted Valentine as saying that he wouldn’t be taken alive and that he planned to kill his in-laws, then himself.
Police said later that Valentine drove to Richmond after killing his son and injuring his ex-wife, then turned around and drove south, to Columbia.
Keisha Valentine and her teenage son had moved to Norlina nearly nine months ago to get away from her abusive ex-husband, Bartholomew said.
She was granted a year-long domestic violence restraining order, but it expired last month. The police chief said there’s evidence that Earl Valentine had exchanged heated words with his ex-wife’s family on Facebook.
Still, it’s unclear what prompted Tuesday morning’s assault on Hyco Street.
About 1:30 a.m., Earl Valentine burst through the front door of the house and marched to his ex-wife’s bedroom, Bartholomew said. Keisha Valentine leaned against the door, trying to keep him out, but he managed to shoot her anyway.
Their son, awakened by the commotion, confronted his father. But the teenager fell to the floor and was shot in the chest.
Before he died, he called police and told them what had happened.
If he had been captured alive, Earl Valentine faced a first-degree murder charge in his son’s death, Bartholomew said.
Since Facebook Live launched in April, millions have used the service to offer a glimpse into the big moments and small details of their lives.
The view isn’t always pretty.
Earl Valentine is the latest example of a person using Facebook Live to discuss a violent act — or to showcase the act itself.