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Suspect in murder of Richmond couple makes first court appearance

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 10:40 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) - Chris and Gracie Hager were shot and killed last week.

They were known for their missionary work and for the real estate business.

Monday morning, the man accused of killing them, Thomas Birl, made his first appearance in court.

Birl appeared for his arraignment by video. He’s facing several charges including murder, arson, tampering with physical evidence, and criminal mischief:

Chris and Gracie Hager were shot and killed last week. Monday morning, the man accused of...
Chris and Gracie Hager were shot and killed last week. Monday morning, the man accused of killing them, Thomas Birl, made his first appearance in court.(WKYT)

Police say Birl shot the Hagers outside an apartment complex they owned on Keystone Drive.

Neighbors tell us Birl lived in the building with his girlfriend. It’s not clear why the Hagars were at the apartment, but police say the couple planned on selling the building. Investigators are tying to figure out a possible motive.

In court, not guilty pleas were entered on Birl’s behalf. He told the judge he’s a musician.The judge appointed Birl an attorney and set a $5 million bond.

Family and friends of the Hagers were not in the courtroom, but Sunday night they gathered by the numbers. A celebration of life ceremony honored the couple. Those who knew them say they will truly be missed.

“You know it’s only by the grace of God that I’m getting through it,” said Mike Park, friend of the Hagers. “It was just so hard in the first days, just really so hard to think that they could be taken from us this soon.”

Visitation for Chris and Gracie Hager is Monday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at at Hatfield Funeral Chapel in Pike County. Their funeral is Tuesday in the same location at 1 p.m.

Birl declined an interview from jail. His preliminary hearing is set for August 18.

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