Convicted murderer arrested in overnight Portsmouth homicide

Franklin W. Layne III (Photo: Portsmouth Police Department)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A Portsmouth man has been charged in an overnight shooting that police say resulted in the death of a 70-year-old man.

Officers were called to the scene on Chippewa Trail, just off Portsmouth Boulevard, around 12:20 a.m. Thursday for a domestic dispute. Dispatchers received a separate call while officers were en route indicating that arguing had been heard on Chippewa Trail, followed by a gunshot.

“The police cars blocked the whole street,” said neighbor Patricia Seacrist.

The early morning shooting turned into early morning murder investigation for Portsmouth police. Responding officers found an elderly man lying on the ground with a fatal head injury.

Investigators told 10 On Your Side’s Rico Bush Thursday morning the man was shot in the head. The man was identified as 70-year-old John Nunamaker, of Portsmouth.

“When I heard someone was shot, I figured it was them,” Seacrist added.

By “them,” Seacrist meant her longtime neighbors, the Nunamakers. Court records show they were a couple in the middle of marital chaos. In March, the wife took out a protective order on her husband, John Nunamaker. He was banned from the home.

According to court documents, Nunamaker’s wife said John punched her in the face, broke her nasal bone and years ago, broke her cheek bone. At one point, he even threatened he would kill her if she told anyone, court documents say.

On Thursday morning, John Nunamaker was back at the home — against a judge’s ruling.

There was an argument with 58-year-old Franklin Layne III. Police say Layne shot and killed Nunamaker in the front yard. He was shot in the head.

Layne is charged with second-degree murder.

10 On Your Side dug into Layne’s past and discovered he wasn’t allowed to carry a gun because he is a convicted murderer. Court records show Layne was sentenced to life in prison for capital murder and robbery back in 1988. He was behind bars for more than 25 years.

Layne is in the custody of the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office. He will make his first court appearance Friday morning.