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Pyrexia Vocalist Eric Shute Arrested for Allegedly Murdering Three People in West Virginia

The death metal vocalist and "sovereign citizen" reportedly ambushed the victims and shot them to death over a property dispute.

by Noisey Staff
14 June 2016, 8:48pm

The vocalist for long-running NYC death metal band Pyrexia, Erick Shute, was arrested early this morning for the alleged murder of three people in Morgan County, West Virginia. Following an eight-hour manhunt across several states, Shute was apprehended in Pennsylvania. The three victims are dead, Shute is in custody, and according to Morgan County Sheriff Vincent Shambaugh, "It was a property dispute over some firewood, or something of that nature."

According to WSAZ, investigators say that the three men were shot while clearing wood and debris from a roadway adjacent to Shute's property, where Shute—a "doomsday prepper"— was believed to be building a compound. Sheriff Shambaugh says Shute ambushed the men with a rifle from a wooded area nearby. One victim was able to get away, uninjured, but the other three— Travis Bartley, 24, his father William Bartley, 53, and Jack Douglas, the father of Bartley's partner, with whom Bartley has a small child—died from their injuries.

A self-declared "sovereign citizen" (i.e. part of a movement that essentially believes that taxes are illegal and that they shouldn't have to follow federal laws), Shute was known to local law enforcement thanks to his propensity for filing property disputes (including multiple complaints against his alleged victims), a 2009 incident in which he upset local veterans by hanging an American flag upside down to protest the government, and a 2011 indictment for assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.

Shambaugh elaborated on Shute's "sovereign citizen" views to the WV MetroNews, saying, “These folks, they don’t want to pay taxes. They don’t want to recognize local government. They want to build these compounds back in these places away from everybody. They’re preparing for the end times and to be the survivors. He’s tried to recruit some locals to help him build his compound with his little group of sovereigns. He’d talked to the locals about his compound with a cache of weapons and ammunition stored there. That’s where they are all going to go in the end times.”

Shute appears to maintain multiple Facebook pages (where posts reflect his political views and animosity towards the police) and Linkedin accounts, as well as a website descibing himself as a "venture capitalist." It was on one of his Facebook profiles that he posted a message asserting that the shootings had been in self-defense, and that the three men he shot had owed him money and previously threatened him.

As of press time, Shute is still listed as a current member on Pyrexia's Encyclopedia Metallum page, though Decibel is referring to him as the "ex-vocalist;" whether or not he was in the band prior to his capture, one assumes that he'll be out of commission and out of the public eye for the foreseeable future.