By Kirsten Valle
Police arrested Brittany Nicole Loritts' stepfather Monday morning, five weeks after the 18-year-old was stabbed to death in her bedroom.
Detectives from the Salisbury Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation arrested Reginald Carlton Weeks Jr., 46, shortly before 8 a.m. Monday, said police Chief Mark Wilhelm.
Wilhelm said he could not provide details about the evidence police collected against Weeks or what led to the arrest.
Antoinette Garrison, Loritts' stepmother, said police arrested Weeks at an intersection after he left his home at 916 Scales St. for work.
She said she didn't know what evidence prompted the arrest and was anxious to find out. The SBI hadn't returned results of blood work, but Garrison was convinced police had something concrete.
"They have something big," she said. "There's no way Chief Wilhelm would take that kind of chance, otherwise. Whatever it is, it's enough to keep him."
Loritts, an 18-year-old track star and graduate of North Rowan High School, was stabbed to death in her home July 11. Her mother was at work at the time and her stepfather said he was, as well.
In the weeks following the murder, police obtained four search warrants and seized numerous items, including blood and hair samples.
During the most recent search, Aug. 12, investigators collected an explanation of insurance benefits, two white towels, three colored towels, eight notebooks from Loritts' bedroom dresser, a 2005 senior memories book, a white washcloth and a dirty towel from an upstairs shower.
Investigators' probable cause for obtaining the warrant was extensive, according to an affidavit signed by police Detective J.D. Barber.
According to Barber's statement, Weeks said he left for work July 11 between 7:15 and 7:30 a.m. and arrived at a job site on Pinewood Ave. at about 10:30 a.m. He could not account for where he was between 7:30 and 10:30 a.m.
"He stated that he had not been back home until he found his stepdaughter's deceased body, but then indicated to law enforcement that he had, in fact, been back to his residence around 8:30 a.m. and then again around the lunchtime hour," the statement says.
In addition, the affidavit says witnesses observed Weeks at work on Pinewood Ave. They said he borrowed matches from one person and stole a gas can from another.
"This witness told law enforcement that Reginald Weeks Jr. told him that the reason he took the gas was because he had to burn something," the statement reads.
When police searched the job site July 25, they found an off-white towel that had been burned; they sought a search warrant to determine if towels in the Weeks' home "are of the same origin, make or labeled the same as the burned towel that was located on Pinewood Ave."
During other searches in July, police seized items like a comforter and blood-stained bed linens, receipts, checkbooks, a Nokia mobile phone, photos of Loritts and her family, a Hewlett-Packard computer, a wire coat hanger and answering machine tape.
Investigators also had collected swabs of bloodstains, lifted fibers and fingerprints and removed a carpet fiber sample.
Wilhelm said police wanted to be as careful as possible during the investigation; they ruled out a number of suspects as they gathered evidence.
"We started out with everybody involved in any way, and had to eliminate them one by one," he said.
James Davis, Weeks' attorney, said his client is a fine member of the community. "He's done many fine things for many people," Davis said. "We look forward to our day in court."
Davis said Weeks had cooperated with police during much of the investigation.
"Reggie answered questions and helped law enforcement up to the point that he became a suspect," he said. "Then he did the logical thing and hired an attorney."
Weeks' wife and Loritts' mother, Angela, had also hired an attorney, Marshall Bickett. Neither Angela Weeks nor Bickett was available for comment Monday.
Reginald Weeks Sr., Weeks' father, did not wish to comment Monday. His attorney, Carlyle Sherrill, whom he hired to ward off police from his home and workplace, said he wasn't aware of the arrest and hadn't talked to anyone else involved.
At Garrison's house in Spencer, family members had gathered with mixed emotions. Children sang in the hallways; adults flipped through old photos and shared their thoughts on the arrest.
"We are so happy and so relieved," Garrison said. "We've been waiting patiently." Her daughter and Loritts' sister, Asti, 15, had been happy all morning. And Rodd Loritts, Brittany's father, finally went to sleep, she said.
Rodd Loritts said the arrest ended five weeks of anxiety. "Everybody was on their toes," he said. "It gives closure to a terrible thing that happened."
But while Rodd Loritts was happy about the arrest, he was not satisfied, he said. "I feel relieved, but on the other hand, I know it's not over," he said. "It's still not going to bring her back. I hate that it happened and I would hate if it happened to anyone."
Rodd Loritts has been in close contact with police during the investigation -- the bond was part of an agreement that kept him at home in Conover and away from Weeks. "I didn't want to get near him," he said.
And he didn't, even at his daughter's funeral. "I didn't want to act like that," he said. "A funeral's no place to act like that."
He said police have worked hard on the case. "Chief Wilhelm said they'd take care of it, and they did," he said. "I appreciate the service they did for the family."
Family members suspected Weeks from the beginning.
Garrison said her first clue was that Weeks changed his story: At first, he said he found Loritts and didn't touch her; then he said he cradled her and tried to perform CPR.
"He should have been covered in blood," she said. "But his shirt (right after the murder) was clean."
Garrison said her family lived in fear after the murder, too, because they thought Weeks might come after them.
Garrison, her husband and her daughter, Asti, 15, Loritts' half-sister, had not been living at home since shortly after the murder.
Asti stayed in Kannapolis for much of the time with her mother's close friend; Garrison and her husband lived out of the RV they'd parked in a friend's driveway.
Waiting for the arrest was difficult for everybody, Asti said. More than anything, she wanted justice.
"He took my best friend in the world, and I won't be satisfied until he's dead," she said. "Today I feel relieved, but not satisfied."
After her sister's murder, Asti had been everywhere from Greensboro to Atlanta. She wouldn't go anywhere alone, and she made friends walk ahead of her into rooms to make sure no one was waiting for her.
"I haven't been home," she said. "It felt better for me not to stay here."
But she did receive regular updates on the case from her father. "We basically let him tell Asti everything," Garrison said.
Things are starting to return to normal. Garrison and her husband came back to their house Friday; they moved the RV back Sunday night. Now, Asti is back home, too.
But relations between the Weeks and Loritts families remain strained. Asti said she hasn't talked to Angela Weeks; they didn't even console each other at the funeral.
Rodd Loritts hasn't spoken to Angela Weeks, his ex-wife, either. "I'd love to talk to her to see where her heart is and how she feels," he said.
Life at the Weeks' home was difficult for Brittany Loritts, Garrison said. Her stepfather was protective, stifling even. Loritts once snuck over to Garrison's house to see her sister, she said.
"He did not want her to have any outside contact with anybody," Garrison said. "She was 18, and she never got to do anything. This is the life that we lived."
When the family went on vacation early this summer, Loritts wasn't allowed to bring her sister; Weeks only allowed her to see girls from church.
And when boys walked by the family's Scales Street house, Weeks made his stepdaughter come inside, Garrison said.
The house at 916 Scales St. was quiet Monday. The only sign of life was a red Honda parked outside, the car Loritts had been waiting to drive. Her mother and stepfather bought her life insurance; Loritts was saving up for car insurance herself, Asti said.
It was difficult to tell if her sister was unhappy at home, Asti said. "With me and her, we always smile, so it's hard to tell if we're upset," she said.
But Garrison said Loritts was keeping something from them, something terrible about her home life. "Brittany wouldn't break and tell us," she said.
That truth and others will likely come out during Weeks' trial, she said. Until then, all family members can do is wait -- for a trial, a verdict, a sentence.
Asti is a strong proponent of the death penalty. Her mother hopes Weeks gets a long, long time to think.
"I don't want him to die," Garrison said. "I want him to be able to not know the day he'll die. Death is too easy."
And despite the painful things family members might learn in a trial, Garrison said they would be there every step of the way.
"We're not missing a day of it," she said. "We're not going to do that to Asti. This is her sister. She knows that it'll be crazy, but it's the last thing we can do for Brittany."
Weeks is being held without bail at the Rowan County Detention Center. He is scheduled to appear in court at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Contact Kirsten Valle at 704-797-7683 or firstname.lastname@example.org.