Deputies arrest two men in murder investigation

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TAZEWELL, VA (WVNS) — 11:30 a.m. Friday, May, 8, 2020: A murder investigation which began on Wednesday, May 6, 2020 led to the arrest of two men. Deputies are still searching for a third suspect in the case. The remaining suspect is a woman. Her name and description have not been released.

Gabriel ‘Goob’ Peery, 38, of Tannersville and John Austin Fields, 21, of Chilhowie are facing charges in the murder of 63-year-old Douglas French in Tannersville and an assault on another person in Thompson Valley. Mr. French was found dead outside his house. The name of the other victim was not released.

Gabriel Peery was acquainted with both of the victims in these incidents, but Detectives are still putting together all of the information to determine what lead up to the malicious wounding of man and the murder of another. 

Peery is charged with Second Degree Murder and Malicious Wounding. Fields is charged with Malicious Wounding and Conspiracy to Commit Murder.

The investigation is still open and active. Additional charges could be filed. Tazewell County Deputies are being assisted with the case by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, U.S. Marshal Service, Virginia State Police, Smyth County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.


4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 7, 2020 UPDATE: Tazewell County Sheriff Brian Hieatt announced an arrest was made in a murder investigation. Gabriel Peery was arrested in Smyth County, Virginia around 4:15 p.m. on Thursday.

Tazewell County Sheriff, Brian Hieatt, said law enforcement captured a person of interest in two brutal crimes that took place in Tazewell County early Thursday morning.

“The sheriff’s office is working in conjunction with several other agencies including the Virginia State Police, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Smyth County Sheriff’s office, and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, putting together the pieces of what happened in the early hours this morning,” Hieatt explained.

After a long day of searching, deputies captured Gabriel Peery in Smyth County, Virginia. He was wanted for questioning for malicious wounding and murder. The search began before sunrise, after a man in Thompson Valley called 911 for help. That man was stabbed.

Tazewell County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Chris Plaster, said the victim helped in the investigation.

“He luckily was able to get away and identify this individual as the person of interest and led us to that secondary scene,” Plaster said.

“He had been in a fight with some people,” said Hieatt. “We investigated that call and got emergency services to that man. We found out that there was also another location that the same people had been who may have hurt this man.”

Deputies went to Tannersville where they found another man dead. Plaster was on the scene since early Thursday morning. He described it as brutal.

“This person at the very least, we presume is armed with a knife and is also presumed to be very dangerous,” said Plaster.

Smyth County Deputies captured Peery around 4 p.m. Thursday, May 7, 2020. The Tazewell County Sheriff’s office is handling the investigation.


ORIGINAL STORY 10 a.m. Thursday, May 7, 2020: A murder in the Tannersville area of Tazewell County has deputies searching for a person of interest. The man is also wanted for questioning in a malicious wounding case in the Thompson Valley area.

Deputies are looking for Gabriel Layne Peery. He is a person of interest in both investigations. Peery was last known to live in Saltville, Virginia.

Anyone with information on Peery’s location is asked to contact the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office at 276-988-0645 or 276-385-1240. Deputies said the public is advised not to approach Mr. Peery and take extreme caution if they see him.

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