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Four years later, son arrested in ‘Pizza Plus murders’

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Feb 14 2013 05:22:07 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 14 2013 09:48:16 PM CST

An arrest has been made almost four years after a double murder shocked Southwest Virginia.

TAZEWELL COUNTY, Va. -

An arrest has been made almost four years after a double murder shocked Southwest Virginia.

We've learned it's the son of the two victims who is behind bars and is now facing capital murder charges.

News 5 WCYB has been following the case of the so-called 'Pizza Plus murders' through the years. We were at the press conference Thursday morning as the latest development in this case was announced.

It's been called a dark cloud over Tazewell County.

A double murder left Harvey and Valerie Looney dead on the eve of their 29th wedding anniversary at the Pizza Plus where they worked in March of 2009, and it still leaves a community asking questions.

"Really until this day, people are still talking about it," said Arlena Blankenship, a Claypool Hill resident.

Now, investigators said they're piecing together the puzzle of this tragedy.    

32-year-old Christopher Dean Looney, of the Belfast area in Russell County, was arrested Wednesday evening.

"He is the son and the only child of Harvey and Valerie Looney," said Tazewell County Sheriff Brian Hieatt.    

Officials said Christopher Looney has been a suspect since the beginning of the case, but it was what was said during recent questioning that led officials to make an arrest years after the crime.

"We've had people come and say, 'we don't see anything in the news, and we don't see anything in the newspaper, so you've just brushed this under the rug,' and it's hard to explain sometimes that when you're working with critical information, you can't just release a weekly update," said Sheriff Hieatt.

The owner of Pizza Plus, Daniel Morrison, said everyone who works at Pizza Plus is like family, and this family has been grieving for the past four years.

"It's been very hard. I mean, after I talked to the sheriff's department I called the store first, because the lady that found the bodies, she needed to know," said Morrison.

After rumors churned through a community haunted by grief, an arrest of a family member is dropping jaws.

"That's so, so shocking to hear. It really is," said resident Summer Brewer.

It's even prompting more questions.

"Why? 'Why,'' is the question. That's all we talked about at work today is why?" said Arlena Blankenship.

More facts on this case:

Harvey worked at Pizza Plus as a driver; Valerie worked for the company as a shift leader. Morrison said they worked at the Claypool Hill restaurant for about eight years before they were killed.

Officials are releasing very few details about this case, including how the couple was murdered and a possible motive.

Tazewell County commonwealth's attorney Dennis Lee said prosecutors will outline their case at Looney's preliminary hearing. That is expected to happen in the next two months.   

Looney is being held at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Tazewell without bond. During his arraignment Thursday morning, Looney requested court-appointed council.

Prosecutors said there is the possibility they will pursue the death penalty in this case, but that has not yet been decided.