First Memorial Service Following Murder/Arson Case

By: Michael Hyland Email
By: Michael Hyland Email

It's the criminal case that has an entire community mourning.

Three people died in Mathias Friday night in what sheriff's deputies are calling a murder and arson case. Deputies say the killers burned the victims' house down to try to cover up the crime.

Nakia Keller and Lorie Taylor were arrested and charged in the case earlier this week. Lorie is the ex-wife of one of the victims, Dennis "Chip" Taylor. Chip's wife, Allaina, and her five-year-old daughter, Kaylee Whetzel, were the other victims identified in the case.

A memorial service was held for Whetzel Thursday morning.

"She was just so outgoing," says Pastor Arlena Mongold, who was also Whetzel's great aunt.

At Thursday's service, Mongold preached to a crowd seeking comfort and answers.

"We have a hope with Kaylee that we're going to see her again some day. A lot of things in life we just don't understand, but our relationship to God, our faith in God, that's what's going to see us through," says Mongold.

Joem Webster was friends with Allaina. They worked together to voice concerns about issues with their farmland.

"Anybody that could [commit the crime], there would have to be something wrong with them. The vengeance, it's horrendous," says Webster.

In Webster's two decades of living in Hardy County, she can't recall a similar crime.

Investigators say Chip and his ex-wife were in a bitter custody battle.

Loved ones are also battling to cope with the tragedy. Mongold says healing will come in time.

"We are a close-knit community. There's been a lot of outpouring of love and concern. But, as with any tragedy, it's just going to take time to heal. But, there is a hope," says Mongold.

Separate memorial services are scheduled Friday for Allaina and Chip. According to their obituaries, Allaina's service will be in Mathias and Chip's will be in Broadway, Virginia. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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