Lynchburg Store Owner Encounters Man Charged in Grandparents' Murders

From Pawn Shop Surveillance Video

Lynchburg, VA - A local business owner is now opening up about his dealings with a man accused of murdering his grandparents, the same day police believe they were killed.

John and Virginia Philbrook were found shot to death inside their Campbell County home Friday. Their grandson is now charged with their murders.

The workers at the Lynchburg Pawn Shop on Fort Avenue had a dealing with Robert Philbrook just hours after police say his grandparents' were murdered.

According to warrants, neighbors of the Philbrook's told investigators they heard what sounded like "mortar type fireworks" the morning of February 12 and their grandson Robert's Mustang leaving in a hurry.

That afternoon, investigators say Robert Philbrook drove his car to Lynchburg Pawn, where the manager had enough time to run a check on him.

Robert Philbrook walked into Lynchburg Pawn Shop and handed over a tote bag. The time stamp on the surveillance video says it's after 3 p.m. on February 12, and by the time Philbrook sells their jewelry, his grandparents have already been dead about 6 hours, according to investigators.

"There was one diamond ring, a men's diamond ring that he said he could still remember his grandfather wearing," said Sean Hardy, manager of the pawn shop. "He had mentioned to another employee that he had just recently lost his grandparents."

Hardy takes a closer look at the jewelry Philbrook brought in but also has his eye on this particular customer.

"With the quality of merchandise he had and with his age, just kind of curious as to where he got them from," said Hardy. "I was thinking stolen jewelry at first, and so I contacted an investigator with LPD."

Nothing comes back and the transaction continues. Philbrook is in the shop for about an hour and a half - sitting, browsing and chatting.

"Not nervous at all. Just seemed to be very calm. He did finally want to speed up the process. He said, 'I have to go. I've gotta go back to North Carolina tonight,'" said Hardy.

Hardy pays Philbrook about $1,400 cash for the jewelry.

Philbrook left with that tote bag. The same tote bag investigators say they found three days after the video was taken in the house beside his grandmother's body.

Investigators say Robert Philbrook had prior felony convictions for cocaine distribution and conspiracy for events that happened back in 2004. He spent time in federal prison. John Philbrook was a character witness for his grandson in court and also put up their house on Sleepy Hollow Road as collateral for his grandson's bond.