CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The day after Christmas a Caroline County couple walked in on a man breaking into their home, authorities said.

According to the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office, two homeowners returned to their home being robbed on Saturday, Dec. 26 in the 29000 block of Sparta Road at 5 p.m.

One of the suspects, later identified as 30-year-old Micheal Lee Barlow of Montpelier, shot and killed 47-year-old Carla Marie Trost-Walker before stealing the couple’s vehicle and escaping.

Caroline County Sheriff Tony Lippa held a press conference on Monday to discuss the details of the case.

Sheriff Lippa credited local media outlets for coverage that led to tips that helped the homicide investigation.

“This case was solved so quickly for a number of reasons,” Sheriff Lippa said. “We put the information we had out quickly on social media and almost immediately began receiving tips. The citizens who provided tips are to be commended.”

Carla Marie Trost, photo provided by victims husband.

Based on the tips, the sheriff’s office was issued several warrants for Barlow including capital murder, attempted capital murder, armed robbery, breaking and entering, grand larceny, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and use of a firearm in a commission of a felony.

Authorities learned about Barlow’s whereabouts due to citizen tips. Digital surveillance was then used to locate the suspects.

“After nearly 24 hours of diligent effort, the general location of the suspects was identified. Surveillance units began to move in the direction of the location in Goochland,” Caroline County authorities said.

Goochland and Caroline County deputies engaged in a pursuit with the two suspects. The pursuit went from I-64 through Fluvanna County and then the suspect took the Charlottesville exit.

Suspects in the death of 47-year-old Carla Marie Trost-Walker.

Barlow pointed his weapon at Caroline County deputies who sideswiped his car. Barlow then shot himself, Lippa said. The passenger, who was the other suspect, was taken into custody.

32-year-old Leonard Taylor Pippen of Ashland was charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit grand larceny, conspiracy to commit burglary and grand larceny charges.

Authorities said Pippen appeared to be the getaway driver. They also noted that Pippen and Trost’s husband exchanged gunfire before the suspects fled the scene.

During the press conference, Sheriff Lippa said Barlow had done some work on the Trost’s home in the past and he knew what he was looking for.

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Photo of the suspect in Caroline County home invasion the day after Christmas. Photo provided by Caroline County Sheriff’s Office.

Hanover, Goochland, Louisa, Ashland and Albemarle authorities along with Virginia State Police assisted in the investigation.

“This entire event has been tragic,” Sheriff Lippa said. “This was a senseless homicide. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Carla.”

The Caroline County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information to call Investigator Garthaffner at (804) 633-5400 or by email at agarthaffner@co.caroline.va.us. If you wish to remain anonymous please call the tip-line at (804) 633-1133 or the Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.

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