MILLBORO, Va. — As Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds lay in a hospital with stab wounds apparently inflicted by his son, police investigated their relationship, which by most accounts was a particularly close one.
Gus Deeds left college to help his father’s 2009 campaign for governor, and the elder Deeds had made “herculean efforts” to help his son over the years, one of the senator’s colleagues said. On Tuesday morning, though, the pair got into some sort of altercation at Deeds’ home in rural western Virginia and the senator was stabbed multiple times in the head and chest, police said. Gus Deeds died at the home from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Authorities were still piecing together a motive and the circumstances that led up to the stabbing, but “we’re leaning towards it being an attempted murder/suicide,” Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said at an afternoon news conference. Creigh Deeds, 55, and his 24-year-old son were the only ones home at the time.
Deeds, a Democrat who rose to be gubernatorial nominee in 2009 despite his reserved demeanor and humble farmland roots, was in fair condition at a hospital.
Police recovered a gun at the home, but Geller would not provide details about it. She also would not say what the senator was stabbed with.
She said police have been able to talk with the senator, but would not reveal what he has said.
Deeds made his first bid for statewide office in 2005 when he ran for attorney general and lost to Republican Bob McDonnell by fewer than 400 votes. Four years later, he defeated Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran in the Democratic primary, then squared off with McDonnell again in the general election. This time he lost badly.
During that race, Deeds’ style was somewhat unorthodox. He would listen intently to people and their worries, but rarely did he engage in lengthy conversations on the campaign trail, seemingly almost reluctant to impose on people’s time.
Gus Deeds is one of the senator’s four adult children. He studied music at the College of William and Mary, where he had been enrolled off and on since 2007, but withdrew last month, a school spokesman said. The college said he had a strong academic record. It did not say why he left.
During Deeds’ bid for governor, his son took off a semester to join his dad on the campaign trail.
Deeds and his ex-wife, Pam, divorced shortly after the 2009 campaign. Deeds remarried last year.