A former state trooper and his wife died Christmas Eve morning in a murder-suicide at their Bellvue Road residence near South Boston.

Halifax County Sheriff Fred S. Clark identified the victims as former Virginia State Police trooper Philip Leath, 44, and his wife, 37-year-old Lori Leath.

The bodies of the couple were found in the highway in front of their Bellvue Road home. The sheriff said the two victims were deceased when deputies and police arrived at the scene shortly after the call was received at the E-911 center at 9:33 a.m.

According to Clark, both victims died of apparent gunshot wounds.

The bodies of the victims were transported to the state medical examiner’s office in Roanoke for autopsies.

Clark said the the shooting appears to be a domestic incident.

“The incident is still under investigation,” Clark said, “but this appears to be some type of domestic situation.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims,” he added.

“It’s sad, and tragic.”

Clark said authorities recovered a rifle at the scene.

Bellevue Road was blocked to traffic in both directions for approximately three-and-a-half hours while investigators from the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police and South Boston Police Department went about their investigations at the scene.

Several agencies responded to the incident including the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, South Boston Police Department, Halifax County Rescue Squad, South Boston Fire Department and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com.

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com