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Troy David Whisnant
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Originally published: 2014-03-17 10:43:50
Last modified: 2014-03-17 10:58:19

Sheriff gives new info on Burke deaths

by Tom Mayer

The suspect of a double homicide who was killed following a manhunt March 12 in Burke County shot himself in the head as he was confronted by officers and shots were fired, according to new information from the Burke County Sheriff's Office on Monday.

"Pursuant to the investigation and the preliminary autopsy result, when Troy Whisnant was confronted by officers, shots were fired and Whisnant shot himself in the head," according to Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant. "One of the officer's rounds also struck Whisnant."

On March 12, a law enforcement K-9 officer with the U.S. Forest Service was killed, along with Whisnant, who was the main suspect in the double homicide of his parents.

According to the sheriff's office, deputies responded to a welfare check at 8:53 a.m. on March 12. Upon arrival, deputies found Levi and Rhonda Whisnant dead at 5504 Fish Hatchery Road. The son of the deceased, Troy David Whisnant, 38, quickly became a person of interest.

While the Burke County Sheriff's Office was at the homicide scene, the N.C. Highway Patrol came to the scene and advised deputies that they were investigating two vehicle larcenies. The vehicle larceny suspect became the same person of interest deputies were searching for in regard to the homicide.  

The Burke County Sheriff's Office located the second stolen vehicle off Old Table Rock Road and officers began tracking Whisnant through the woods. A law enforcement K-9 officer working for the U.S. Forest Service was killed by Whisnant at about 2:55 p.m., according to the sheriff's office. Reports indicate that the officer killed was 38-year-old Jason Crisp, a former McDowell County sheriff's deputy.

Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant said Crisp had been ambushed by Whisnant, according to reports. Whisnant also reportedly killed Crisp's K-9, Maros, and stole the officer's .45-caliber pistol and magazine.

Nearly two hours later, at about 4:41 p.m., Whisnant was observed in the woods and was commanded to lay his weapon down. Whisnant fired a shot at the officers, and the officers returned fire, according to the sheriff's office.

The investigation concerning the U.S. Forest officer shooting is being handled by the FBI, and the shooting of the suspect by law enforcement officers is being handled by the SBI.

Agencies involved included the Burke County Sheriff's Office, N.C. Highway Patrol, Avery County, Caldwell County, U.S. Forestry Service, Morganton Pubic Safety, NCDOT, Watauga County, SBI, FBI, N.C. Wildlife, ALE, N.C. Licenses and Theft Bureau, Valdese Police Department, Glen Alpine Police Department, Drexel Police Department, Burke Emergency Services, Lake James Fire Department and Oak Hill Fire Department. 

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety information database, Whisnant served one year in prison, from 1997 to 1998, for manslaughter.

He also has been incarcerated for assault on a public official, resisting arrest, multiple charges of possession of stolen goods and credit card fraud.

Whisnant also was charged with multiple drug possession charges.

"Further information (about Whisnant's dearth) will be provided pursuant to the SBI's continuing investigation," Whisenant said on Monday.