Suspect In City Murder Case Captured
Staunton SWAT Team Finds Chaplin Hiding In Basement
Posted: December 28, 2012
STAUNTON — Roughly three hours after Staunton police surrounded a home here Thursday night, the 19-year-old man accused of murdering a recent Spotswood High School graduate last weekend left the residence handcuffed and in the custody of SWAT team members.
Police Chief Jim Williams said Staunton resident Dallas Chaplin was found hiding in the basement of a home at 206 Peabody St., and was taken into custody without a struggle at about 6 p.m.
Minutes after the suspected killer’s capture, Williams said he was relieved the ordeal ended successfully.
“Obviously, you want to take them off the streets as soon as, and as safe as, you can,” said Williams.
Police say Chaplin shot and killed Ben Graessle, 19, around 1 a.m. Sunday outside an apartment at The Commons, located in the 800 block of Port Republic Road in Harrisonburg. The complex is one of many in the area that cater to students attending nearby James Madison University.
Chaplin, who had been on the run since the shooting, is charged with first-degree murder and felony use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Sources say Givi Dudunia, 19, and Graessle argued before Dudunia began hitting him. That’s when Chaplin went up to Graessle and shot him, sources close to the investigation say.
Dudunia and Chaplin were among a group of young men who traveled from Staunton to the Port Republic Road area to attend a party at the apartment building Graessle lived in.
Sources say police don’t believe Dudunia and Chaplin knew Graessle before the party.
The victim, formerly of Elkton, graduated in 2011 from Spotswood High School, where he played baseball and football for the Trailblazers. He was attending Blue Ridge Community College and planned to transfer to JMU.
On Thursday afternoon, investigators with the Harrisonburg Police Department received a tip that Chaplin was hiding out at the Staunton home. Williams said it’s unclear what, if any, ties Chaplin has to the home.
A Staunton SWAT team surrounded the house. Williams said police gave Chaplin commands to come out.
“We asked him hundreds of times to give himself up,” he said.
But officers received no response.
They then deployed tear gas into the home, but even then, they received no response from inside.
Heavily armed officers entered the home and found Chaplin.
Chaplin will likely make his first court appearance today in Rockingham County General District Court.
Dudunia, who was arrested shortly after the shooting, is charged with misdemeanor assault and battery. More charges could follow in that case, according to court documents.
“The accused (Dudunia) was involved in a felony murder,” the document states. “The accused ran away with the alleged shooter.”
During Dudunia’s first court appearance in general district court Thursday, Judge Richard Claybrook ordered him held without bond.
At the request of Dudunia’s defense attorney, Andrew Graves, Claybrook scheduled a bond hearing for today. He also scheduled his trial for Feb. 5.
Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or email@example.com