’This entire event has been tragic’: Suspect shoots self, another charged in murder of woman during home invasion

Suspects led police on pursuit before crashing vehicle

’This entire event has been tragic’: Suspect shoots self, another charged in murder of woman during home invasion
Carla Marie Trost, 47, was killed during the home invasion. (Source: Trost's Family)

CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - Police say one suspect involved in a deadly home invasion that occurred in Caroline County is dead after shooting himself. A second suspect has been arrested for the crime. According to police, the suspects led officers on a pursuit before crashing a vehicle.

Caroline County police say on Dec. 26, the man entered a home, and the homeowners - Carla Marie Trost, 47 and her husband Steve Walker - interrupted the break-in.

Investigators believe the man exited the residence and shot Trost before taking her vehicle.

Carla Marie Trost, 47, was killed during the home invasion.
Carla Marie Trost, 47, was killed during the home invasion. (Source: Trost's Family)

“We will not rest until this murder is solved,” Caroline County Police said in a statement at the time.

“It’s very hard for our family because we love Steve and a big part of his world has been taken from him senselessly,” Trost’s cousin Susan Trost-Johnson said. “As I’m sure anybody would imagine ... it’s hard to process because it’s just so shocking this is such a quiet part of Virginia.”

Police eventually identified the suspects and warrants were obtained as well as digital surveillance to help locate them in Goochland County. Police say the public helped find them within 24 hours.

Caroline County Sheriff's Office released these photos of a man they are looking for in connection to the homicide. Police say he should be considered armed and dangerous.
Caroline County Sheriff's Office released these photos of a man they are looking for in connection to the homicide. Police say he should be considered armed and dangerous. (Source: Caroline County Sheriff's Office)

Investigators from Goochland and Caroline Counties spotted the vehicle and the suspects fled, according to police. The pursuit continued into Albemarle County where the vehicle crashed.

The driver of the vehicle, identified as Michael Lee Barlow, 30, of Montpelier, shot himself and died at the scene. The sheriff’s office believes that Barlow may have known Trost and the layout of the house.

“It appears that Barlow had done some work on the house a few years so he knew what was in the house and knew what he was after. That was apparent to us.”

According to police, Barlow had outstanding warrants for:

  • Capital murder
  • Attempted capital murder
  • Armed robbery
  • Breaking and entering
  • Grand larceny
  • Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
  • Use of a firearm in the commission of a felony prior to his death

The passenger, identified as Leonard Taylor Pippin Jr., 32, of Ashland, was taken into custody.

Left to Right: Leonard Taylor Pippin Jr. and Michael Lee Barlow
Left to Right: Leonard Taylor Pippin Jr. and Michael Lee Barlow (Source: Caroline County Sheriff's Office)

Police say Pippin has been charged with:

  • First-degree murder
  • Conspiracy to commit burglary
  • Conspiracy to commit grand larceny
  • Grand larceny

“This entire event has been tragic,” Sheriff Lipa said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Carla. I am so pleased with the work the fine men and women of your Sheriff’s office, and our regional partners have done so that these two dangerous individuals could be located.”

Trost-Johnson, drove all the way from her home in Maryland to personally thank the Sheriff’s Office for their efforts in closing this case. She says that Walker has been crushed by the tragedy.

“He’s devastated by basically his world being ripped out from underneath him in a violent and tragic manner that was certainly not reflective of how she lived her life,” Trost-Johnson said. “I can’t thank you enough for the work that the sheriff and his staff and the other law-enforcement agencies and officers did to bring it to a rapid conclusion.”

She says that Trost worked as a dentist in Mechanicsville, Va. and that her infectious smile is what she’ll miss most.

“She had a beautiful smile that matched her personality and she was very devoted to her work, she was a wonderfully bright soul and the reflection of her parents who are both wonderful people,” Trost-Johnson said. “Our Job Now is to make sure that we’re supporting Steve her husband her beloved husband.”

The Caroline County Sheriff’s Office is asking If anyone has any information that may help identify these people of interest, they are asked to call 804-633-5400 or email agarthaffner@co.caroline.va.us. If you wish to remain anonymous, call 804-633-1133 or the Richmond Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. You can also text your information to CRIMES using the keyword “iTip” or online at www.780-1000.com.

“Nothing will be able to bring Carla back, but I think it’s a relief to know that this man will not be able to do this kind of damage to any other family,” Trost-Johnson said.

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