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The Murder Brothers: The True Story of the Briley Gang

Do you believe you are close with your siblings? You may not be as close as the Briley brothers. Click here to find out just how many people they murdered on their killing spree. In 1979, the Briley Brothers were a small gang that was responsible for a spree of killings that happened in Richmond, Virginia. 

Early Days

There were three Briley Brothers, Linwood Earl, James Dyral Jr., and Anthony Ray. These three brothers were born into a stable home with two loving parents situated in the Highland Park neighborhood within Richmond, Virginia. 

The brothers were known in their neighborhood as the people who helped their neighbors when they needed their lawns mowed and their cars repaired. 

The three brothers loved exotic pets. They had some of the biggest exotic pets in the neighborhood. Their collection consists of boa constrictors, tarantulas, and even piranhas. It is also to be claimed that the brothers were also engaging in zoo sadism as well. 

However, the boy’s father James Briley Sr. was very unhappy with how the boys were behaving and they kept the boys room padlocked from the inside. The boy’s mother, Bertha moved out of the house as she did not feel safe. 

The boys only truly feared their Father James Briley Sr. 

First Murder

The first murder happened in 1971. The murder was committed by Linwood. While Linwood was home alone one day, he decided to pick up his rifle and shoot it out of his bedroom window. When doing so he fatally shot and killed Orline Christian, who was one of the Briley’s elderly neighbors. Christian was casually minding her business hanging out some laundry on her clothesline. 

However, the Linwood almost got away with the crime, but some of her relatives noticed there was a bloody mark under her armpit during her funeral and had the funeral director take another look at her body. 

Upon the funeral director taking a second look at Christian’s body, this is when a small-caliber bullet wound was officially discovered under Christian’s armpit. 

The funeral director immediately called the local police officer who then started up an investigation of how the gunshot wound happened. 

The police officers stood in Christian’s back yard and decided to use a piece of plywood to represent where she was standing. They then cut a hole into the plywood to represent the bullet wound. 

By doing all of this, the police were able to figure out without a doubt that the bullet had to have come from the Briley house, which sat across the alleyway. 

Then it all happened suddenly, the murder weapon was found, and Linwood immediately confessed to the crime.

Linwood was then immediately sent to a reform school where he would have to be there for a year as punishment for killing his elderly neighbor.

Murder Spree

Then in 1979, the Briley brothers and one of their many accomplices Duncan Meekins, decided it was time to start off on a seventh-month spree of killing random people throughout their city and region. 

Their first senseless murder just happened to be on March 12, 1979. This is when Linwood was knocking on William and Virginia Bucher’s door. Linwood stated that he was having car trouble and asked the couple if he can use their telephone. 

Linwood decided it was best to force his way into their home. He then held the pair at gunpoint and waved his brother Anthony to come inside. Then the brothers tied up the pair and robbed of their home. As they were robbing their home, they were also pouring kerosene throughout the rooms as well. 

As they were leaving the home, they lit a matched and tossed in on the kerosene. The two hurried away from the scene of the crime with their loot. The loot consists of jewelry, CB radio, and television. 

However, William Bucher was able to free himself and get his wife free. They were just barely able to escape their burning house. This couple would be the only couple that was able to escape the wrath of the Briley brothers. 

Then on March 21, Michael McDuffie, who just happened to be a serviceman for vending machines was robbed, assaulted, and murdered in his home by the Briley brothers. 

Then on April 9 just two weeks later, the Briley brothers followed Mary Gowen, a 76-year-old elderly lady home from her babysitting gig. They followed her into her home only to rape and murder her. They also robbed her home after they successfully murdered her. 

On July 4, Christopher Philips was hanging around Linwood’s vehicle. The brothers thought Philip’s might be planning on stealing the vehicle, so they thought it was time to take him out. The brothers dragged Philip to a backyard where they dropped a cinderblock on his head as they were beating him down. 

Then a few months later September 14, John Gallaher a disc jockey was on stage performing alongside his band in the South Richmond nightclub. 

Upon stepping outside of the club between breaks, he encountered the Briley brothers. The Briley brothers were looking for their next victim nearly all night long without success until they laid eyes on John Gallaher. 

Linwood assaulted Gallaher. After assaulted Gallaher, he was placed in the trunk of Linwood’s Lincoln Continental. Gallaher was then brought out into the middle of James River to the Mayo Island.  His body was discovered two days later.

Then two weeks later September 30, the Briley brothers next victim was Mary Wilfong, a private nurse. They followed Wilfong home to her apartment in Richmond. Linwood beat Wilfong to death using a baseball bat. Then, as usual, the brothers robbed her house of everything that had value. 

Capture and incarceration

When being interrogated by the police Meekins was the only one offered a plea agreement. Meekins could only accept the plea agreement if he turned against the Briley brothers and worked with the prosecution team. 

In true fashion, Meekins decided to take the plea agreement to save himself and turn against the Briley brothers. Meekins was able to provide all the details that surrounded their murder killing spree. 

With Meekins taking the plea deal, he was able to avoid getting the death penalty. He was also sent to a different Virginia Prison that was far away from the Briley clan. 

With the plea agreement Meekins received a life sentence with an additional 80 years.

Anthony Briley was given one life sentence with the possibility of parole. While James and Linwood were sentenced to death for their roles in the murder spree. 

Executions

The brothers remaining appeals quickly ran out on them. The brothers were executed at the Virginia State Penitentiary located in Richmond by the electric chair. Linwood was executed on October 12, 1984, and James was executed on April 18, 1985.

Linwood left behind Norman Laquan Ampy, his son. However, Linwood son was later serving time in jail for a bank robbery, but later died in 2015. 

James left behind three of his daughters who still live in Richmond, Virginia. 

Both brothers are buried together in the Council Cemetery located in Bethel, North Carolina. 

While the younger brother Anthony is still in custody of the Virginia Department of Corrections. He is currently sitting in the Augusta Correctional Center. Anthony does come up for parole consideration once every few years, but he is always denied.

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