Man charged in connection to mother, daughter shot in Amherst County

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AMHERST Co., Va. (WDBJ7) - An Amherst County man was arrested Wednesday in connection to a shooting that killed a 92-year-old mother and injured her 74-year-old daughter in their own home.

Investigators arrested Justin Jay Sales, 18, early Wednesday morning at a home in Madison Heights on Littleton Lane. He is charged with first degree murder, malicious wounding and two counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony.

"It has been a hard investigation for our department. We have worked tirelessly for the last two weeks," said Sheriff E.W. Viar at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. "We are very glad to bring this case to a charge."

Deputies were called to the 200 block of Bobwhite Road on June 25th for reports of two women shot. Doris T. Puleio, 92, died and her daughter Trudy Ann Goetz, 74, was shot in the chest.

Investigators remain tight-lipped about what might have led to the shooting. Viar cited an ongoing investigation and said he did not want to jeopardize the case moving forward.

Sales lives on Early Farm Rd., which is just a three minute drive from where the shooting happened. Viar said he is not related to the two women, but he would not comment further.

The teen does not have a criminal record, however it is not his first run-in with law enforcement. In 2017, Sales was charged with robbery and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. Sales was a juvenile at the time. A judge dismissed the charges after a trial in June of 2018 at the defense attorney's request.

One year later, Sales is facing charges again.

"This is a senseless and heinous crime," said Viar. "We don't have these kinds of things in Amherst County."

Viar said they identified Sales as a suspect about one week after the shooting. Sales was under surveillance for one day leading up to his arrest. The sheriff told reporters that many officers were on the ground working to locate him. Sales was arrested with out incident.

Lynchburg Police, Virginia State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives all assisted in the investigation.

"A lot of investigative work by a lot of agencies," said Viar. "I'm just glad that our investigators and the other team of investigators who helped us out were able to bring a charge because that night was hard."

According to the sheriff, Goetz is out of the hospital and doing well.

This was the first murder in Amherst County in 2019.

"I'm very proud that this is our only murder this year and I hope it stays that way," said Viar.