Picture courtesy of the French family
Raleigh, NC -- Gov. Pat McCrory has offered a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in a murder case that shocked Rockingham County almost a year ago.
A spokesman for the Rockingham Co. Sheriff's Office tells WFMY News 2 that Sheriff Sam Page requested the reward in hopes of tracking down whoever killed Troy and LaDonna French in Feb. 2012.
At a news conference in October, Page said his investigators now have a DNA profile of the killer, who is a man. The State Bureau of Investigation and the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit helped craft the profile, which was developed after months of waiting for DNA analysis from the state crime lab.
While the sheriff says the killer is undoubtedly a male, he wouldn't say much more at that news conference. Page wouldn't answers questions about whether the DNA analysis revealed anything else about the killer's identity. What is certain: the DNA doesn't match anything stored in state or national databases. So the sheriff appealed to the community for information.
That appeal continues with this new reward money from the governor's office.
At the time of that October news conference, Sheriff Page said he believed the murderer is still in the area and someone might have seen him with the murder weapon -- a Hi Point 9mm handgun. The gun belonged to one of the victims: Troy French.
The couple's daughter, Whitley French, has told authorities that in the early-morning hours of Feb. 4, 2012, she awoke to a stranger in her bedroom of the family's home in Bethany. She told investigators that when she screamed, the intruder ran from her room and her parents ran to her aid. Once downstairs, she said the intruder then began shooting at her parents. Whitley French was treated for a knife wound.
While the DNA hasn't yet given investigators an explicit answer as to who the killer is, it has helped rule out a number of people as the triggerman. Sheriff Page said in October the people his investigators interviewed early on in the case can be ruled out as shooters -- including family members and some of the family's close connections.
"To the person out there who's responsible for this crime," Page said late last year, "I would tell you, 'It's just a matter of time.'"
The community and the victims' families, still reeling from the murders, set off fireworks in their honor to ring in the start of 2013. Hunter French, Troy and LaDonna's son, put on a hard hat and lit the first set of fireworks.
"They'd be honored that this was happening," LaDonna's sister, Kathy Hayes, said at the New Year's gathering. "And as my sister would say, she wouldn't be able to believe it."
It's a way to remember, but also a reminder.
"I just wish that we would know why it happened," Hayes said. "Because it was senseless."
If you know anything about the murders that could help investigators solve the case, call Rockingham County Crimestoppers at (336) 349-9683.