Henry County Circuit Court Judge David V. Williams has denied bond for a Stuart man accused of killing his wife.
Thomas Richard Pequignot, 72, of 277 Sheppard Road, is charged with first-degree murder in the strangulation death of Lorene “Bug” Hopkins-Pequignot in January 2018.
At the news conference on May 22, Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry said that at 6:57 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2018, Pequignot had called 911 and told the dispatcher that it appeared his home at 4436 Longview Drive in Fieldale had been broken into and that he could not find his wife.
Deputies responded to the scene and, upon entering the residence, found Hopkins-Pequignot dead, Perry said.
The body was sent to the Office of the Chef Medical Examiner for the Western District of Virginia for an autopsy, and the medical examiner ruled the death as a homicide, with the cause of death being manual strangulation.
“While working the crime scene to identify and collecting evidence, it became quickly apparent that it appeared to be a staged crime scene,” Perry said. “Evidence was collected, and then over the past 16 months we have continued working very diligently on this case, going through the evidence, the testing with that….
“We also have conducted dozens of interviews, and some of these interviews have been in South Carolina and other locations. Through this our investigation has been assisted with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and the Virginia State Police.”
On May 20, a Henry County grand jury reviewed the evidence and indicted Tom Pequignot.
According to court records, a judge had sealed the indictment until it was served or until June 19, whichever occurred first.
“As grounds for this motion, the commonwealth’s attorney represented that the defendant in the case underlying such indictment does not expect to be indicted, and the commonwealth believes that giving law enforcement time before the indictment is publicized to locate and arrest such defendant would reduce the risk of violence towards law enforcement, intimidation of the violence to persons suspected by such defendant of being witnesses for the commonwealth and would also increase the chances of locating and arresting such defendant,” the judge’s order states.
Perry said Pequignot was arrested May 21 at his home in Stuart by deputies from the Henry County and Patrick County sheriff’s offices. He was held in Henry County jail without bond.
When asked about Pequignot’s possible motive, Perry said: “At this point all we can say is that it was a husband and wife, and we do not know that we can accurately say what a motive is at this time, what may have led to it.”
Paul Collins is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801, ext. 236.