Oakton’s Robert Gillespie, 54, was arrested for murder early last Thursday after stabbing his 72-year-old house mate to death, police said.
The two men shared a condominium along Bushman Drive, where police arrived early Thursday morning, March 14. Gillespie called police around 1 a.m. to report that his roommate, Howard Tickle, was dead. According to a police report, the two men were arguing when Gillespie stabbed Tickle in the upper torso.
When neighbors of the men made their way to work Thursday morning, they were greeted by a group of Fairfax County Police going in and out of the apartment.
Across-the-hall neighbor Shawn Gill was "a little freaked out" when he first heard about the incident. As he left for work, Gill asked an officer what had happened.
"I said, ‘Is the guy all right?’" Gill said. "And a police officer said, ‘No, he’s dead.’"
Judging by the large number of police officers at the apartment, Gill assumed there had been a murder. But he didn’t find out the details until reading an article in the Washington Post.
"Not to say I was glad to hear what happened," Gill said, "But at least there was no one breaking into the apartment."
Gill, who recently moved into the condominium complex, said he was "shocked" to find out that two people lived in the apartment. Gill and Tickle had engaged in a few friendly conversations, but Gill had never met Gillespie.
"It’s funny what you don’t know about your neighbors," Gill said. "It seems like, in this day and age, people just say, ‘Hi’ in the hallway."
Will Howard, who lives one floor down from Gillespie and Tickle, described Tickle as a "nice old man." Howard and Tickle, both gun rights advocates, used to discuss gun laws together.
"He would discuss the way gun laws used to be and the way they are now," Howard said.
Howard had seen Gillespie coming out of the apartment, but the two had never spoken. Howard saw Gillespie so infrequently that Howard thought Gillespie was Tickle’s son, visiting from out of town.
Both Ramon Heard, who lives next door to Gillespie and Tickle, and Sheila Fraites, who lives directly below, said they never heard any arguments between the two men prior to the Thursday incident. At around 8 p.m. Thursday night, Fraites said she heard a loud thump.
"It caught my attention," Fraites said. "I asked my son if he was banging something around or if it came from upstairs. He said it was upstairs."
Heard said the two men had lived together in the apartment for at least 10 years. He said his family has been in the condominium for a decade, and Gillespie and Tickle have always lived there.
"I’ve got two little ones," Heard said, referring to his children. "So of course it was kind of scary."
He said his neighbors are friendly, and that people greet each other as they pass in the hallway.
"Everybody just kind of does their own thing," Fraites said. "I’ve been here six years and everyone stays to themselves."
Howard said he and some neighbors stood outside the condominium complex discussing the murder just after it happened.
"We were just talking about how bad it is," Howard said.
"I’m kind of upset it had to happen," Fraites said. "I’m just sad for everybody involved."
Gillespie is currently being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.