by: Dave Faherty Updated:
BURKE COUNTY, N.C. - Investigators have outlined the path of violence surrounding Troy Whisnant who killed his father, stepmother, a U.S. Forest Service officer and his K-9 Wednesday.
Investigators believe the violence started days ago.
Around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, Whisnant’s parent’s vehicle was found in someone’s yard in McDowell County.
From there, investigators said Whisnantstole a car and headed back to Burke County.
It is not clear what he did with that car, but he then stole another vehicle and crashed it on Highway 181 near the K and C Country Store.
At 7:40 a.m. he was captured on surveillance video walking inside the store.
Then, he walked behind the store and stole a wrecker truck.
SPECIAL SECTION: Jason Crisp - Killed in the line of duty
At 9 a.m. the mother’s coworker called police and said she had never missed work, but had failed to show up for work.
Deputies discovered the bodies of Whisnant’s father Levi and stepmother Rhonda during a welfare check at the home on Fish Hatchery Road.
Investigators announced Whisnant as a person of interest.
At 12 p.m. they set up a command post near the scene. Minutes later, they found the stolen wrecker abandoned near the post.
A neighbor called 911 to report someone breaking into his shed. Whisnant stole the man’s 12-gauge shotgun and a pistol and ran into the woods.
At 2:25 p.m. Whisnant shot and killed Crisp and his K-9 Maros with the stolen shotgun. He took Crisp’s gun and ammunition.
LIVE UPDATES: Burke Co. officer and his K9 killed in line of duty
At 4:41 p.m. officers shot and killed Whisnant. The sheriff said after Whisnant crashed into the back of another car on Highway 181, he walked away from the crash calm, like nothing had even happened.
The sheriff believes that’s because he was high on crack cocaine.
Surveillance video from the convenience store could be the last image of him before he died in a shootout with officers.
The store clerk described Whisnant’s behavior. She still can’t believe she came face-to-face with him in the middle of his crime spree.
“He acted like any other customer: calm, cool, collected,” said Rhiannon Conner. "It was unbelievable that this guy was in here in front of me less than a foot away from me after doing all these crimes and you don't know."
Deputies said Whisnant's crime spree began to unravel when a highway patrolman asked manager Teresa Hudson to see the store's surveillance video.
TIMELINE: 4 people and K9 killed in Burke Co.
"The highway patrol said there he is, and he said I know this gentleman and immediately they recognized him,” Hudson said.
About an hour later, deputies found Whisnant’s father and stepmother dead, which led to the manhunt.
“I feel sorry for the families that were involved. Their loved ones are gone, just a sad situation,” said the owner of the stolen truck, Dean Padgett.
It could be a few days before we know exactly when Whisnant killed his father and stepmother.
The sheriff said during the press conference, the autopsies on the couple were being performed Thursday.
Whisnant’s autopsy was also done Thursday at Baptist Hospital.
Suspect's criminal history
Almost two decades ago, Troy Whisnant was the focus of another killing case -- the death of his best friend.
Eyewitness News worked with news partners at the Morganton News Herald Thursday and uncovered Whisnant actually confessed to that killing.
Eighteen years ago, Whisnant confessed to killing William Shane Newton.
Newton's mom told Eyewitness News her family still aches.
"It tore us apart and I think about that every day," said Shirley Newton.
Police arrested and charged Whisnant, who was 20 years old at the time, with murder.
Documents obtained by Eyewitness News showed the district attorney struck a deal with Whisnant.
He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.
He was given credit for the 14 months he spent in prison before the sentencing and was incarcerated for another year.
Newton's mom was outraged and said she tried to fight the plea deal.
"I even got out and worked and everybody else helped me get a petition up and we had over a thousand names on that petition,” she said. "It didn't make a bit of difference."
Eyewitness News contacted the district attorney who was in office in 1996.
He didn't remember the case but said Whisnant's criminal record, age and mental state could have all been factors in the plea deal.
After that manslaughter charge, Whisnant spent years in and out of prison.
He was convicted of various charges in June 1999, July 2000, November 2001, March 2003, December 2003 and April 2011.
Whisnant was out on bond when Wednesday.
He was charged with breaking and entering in January and was supposed to appear in court later this month.
COMPLETE PAST COVERAGE: Officer, suspect among 4 killed in Burke Co.