MAYVILLE – In a case that a veteran law enforcement officer described as one of the most disturbing he has ever seen, four men have been arrested in the slayings of a Chautauqua County couple whose bodies were found Wednesday inside their burning house after a home invasion.
Chautauqua County officials identified the victims as Gordon Skinner, 66, and his wife, Joyce, 59, of Wheeler Hill Road in the Town of Carroll, southeast of Jamestown.
In custody are: Davide Coggins, 34, no address given; and Ricky Knickerbocker, 18; Steven Todd, 18; and Joshua McCormick, 21, all of Elmira.
Referring to the home invasion, Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace said, “In all our minds, it was not a random act. We believe it [was] a targeted act.”
The sheriff added, “In my 34 years, this was one of the most disturbing and troubling home invasions I have seen.”
Autopsies were performed Thursday morning by the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office. Nothing was disclosed regarding how the Skinners were killed, except that a firearm was not involved.
Authorities said the suspects were taken into custody early Thursday in Elmira; Coggins was picked up separately from the other three.
District Attorney David W. Foley said the four are being held in the county jail.
Police have seized a 2003 car – a gold- or tan-colored Pontiac Grand Am with New York license plates – in which the four were believed to have traveled together. Anyone who may have seen it as early as Tuesday in the Town of Carroll or Frewsburg is asked to call police.
“The community is extremely scared,” said Carroll Police Chief Timothy Wright. “We are doing everything we can to help the community. People should understand that their communication will assist us in solving this case, and anything they think would help to clarify the situation, they should report it.”
State police, Chautauqua County sheriff’s deputies, Elmira and Town of Carroll police were credited for their help with the continuing investigation.
No information was given on the cause of the fire or extent of damage to the house. The couple was believed to have been alone in the house.