Updated | Slayings of beloved Richmond couple stun community, friends

·3 min read

Those who knew a slain Richmond couple expressed disbelief while they shared memories of and tributes to the pair.

Christopher Hager, 54, and Gracie Hager, 52, were shot multiple times Tuesday about 2:20 p.m. at the duplex the Hagers owned on Keystone Drive. Thomas Birl, 51, of Cadiz, has been charged with murder and arson. Police Chief Rodney Richardson said Birl set fire to the building after the killings and a standoff with police.

“Our hearts are heavy ... over the tragic loss of Chris and Gracie Hager, dear friends of so many,” Eastside Community Church posted on Facebook.

Christopher Hager’s Facebook page indicates that he was active in the real estate industry, working at Better Homes and Gardens in Naples, Florida, and ERA Professional Hometown Services in Richmond. He and Gracie Hager owned several residential properties and a gas station called University Shell that sold local baked goods, sandwiches and gifts. They were involved in real estate transactions in Florida as well.

Erin Ackerman, an agent at the Richmond real estate office where Christopher Hager worked, said in an interview that the Hagers were “the epitome of a godly couple.”

“They both had huge servants’ hearts,” Ackerman said. “You could not have met a better couple.”

Others, including family members, remembered the couple in many social media posts describing how they treated others.

“There was never a time when Gracie didn’t meet me with the biggest hug. It was like we hadn’t seen each other in so long. .. And Chris, what a man, dad, uncle, brother, friend, servant of God. It was in their house, holding their hands, praying with them that I accepted Christ as my savior,” said Barry Hager. “Family was everything to them. I was even in their wedding when I was a boy. The ring bearer.”

“It is a big family with a broken heart,” he said.

Balloons sat outside an apartment building on Keystone Drive in Richmond Wednesday, one day after Christopher and Gracie Hager were shot to death. Thomas C. Birl was charged.
Balloons sat outside an apartment building on Keystone Drive in Richmond Wednesday, one day after Christopher and Gracie Hager were shot to death. Thomas C. Birl was charged.

“Christopher Hager and Gracie Hager were loved by so many,” said Kirkland Humphrey. “I’ll always remember from my childhood going to their pool & the many nights I stayed at their house. They were awesome neighbors.”

“Two of the most wonderful people you’d ever come across, just gone, in the blink of an eye. The sun sets on a much darker Richmond,” said Bobby Sexton.

“We have lost two Godly people that were greatly loved and respected. So tragic, so senseless, so heartbreaking,” Ginnie Stephens said on social media.

Richardson said the community was “saddened” because the Hagers were “pillars of our community.”

“A lot of people knew them,” he said.

Bluegrass Marble & Granite, a locally-owned store In Richmond, posted about the “valuable impact” the Hagers made.

“Christopher and Gracie Hager were not only our clients, but our friends,” the post said. “The Hagers took a chance on Bluegrass Marble and Granite in 2018 and continued to help us grow our business over the years.”

A community prayer service was scheduled for the Hagers at Eastside Community Church in Richmond at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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