RICHMOND, Ky. (LEX 18) — Crime scene tape remains at the apartment complex on Keystone Drive in Richmond, where Chris and Gracie Hager were shot and killed on Tuesday afternoon.
"Great people. Loved the Lord, went to church every time the door was open," said Roger Keck, who knew the Hagers as property management colleagues.
Truth is, it felt as if everyone in Richmond knew the Hagers in some form or another.
"They had their gas station with the best cake pops, and everyone around Richmond knew them as the sweetest couple," said Mia Brown. Brown was referring to the Shell gas station on the EKU bypass owned by Mr. and Mrs. Hager. Brown lives a few doors away from where the couple was murdered.
"They were just all around the most amazing people you could have the chance to know," said family friend Loran Baudendistel.
Loran came to leave flowers at the makeshift memorial that had been set up near the Shell station entrance.
"I didn't know when I saw them here it would be the last time. It’s the least I could do to thank them," she said.
Heartbreaking. 💔 Loran Baudendistel says she grew up with Chris and Gracie Hager, the Richmond couple whose lives were cut short yesterday.— LEX 18 News (@LEX18News) August 4, 2021
"They were just so full of love and faith and just everything that Richmond needed out of people."
The latest: https://t.co/K4XWFgPMMm pic.twitter.com/G8GKG4gti6
The Hagers owned several properties in town, including the one on Keystone Drive. Reports vary as to why they were there yesterday. Some claim they simply came to collect the rent, while others heard they were serving an eviction notice. There isn’t any record of eviction paperwork having been filed with the Madison County Clerk, and police say no such papers were found at the scene. 51-year-old Thomas Birl was charged with murder and arson. According to police, he lived in the apartment with his girlfriend, but they couldn’t confirm whether or not his name appears on the lease agreement.
Birl, according to police, barricaded himself inside the home after allegedly shooting Mr. and Mrs. Hager and then set fire to the apartment before making it out of a second-story window. Police used a powder gas to encourage him to exit the complex. Birl is still being treated for injuries and will be in police custody once released from the hospital.
A prayer vigil will be held for the Hagers at Eastside Community Church in Richmond at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"They affected anyone who walked into this store. Would give you the clothes off their back. They were amazing," Baudendistel said while fighting back tears.