Local slaying to be part of TV series
By Shelley Smith
The next time you see former Salisbury Police detective James “J.D.” Barber or Salisbury Police Detective Brent Hall, you may want to stop and get their autographs.
Barber and Hall, as well as other Salisbury officials and residents, were filmed over the past week for “Nightmare Next Door,” a new series on the Investigation Discovery channel.
The one-hour show will focus on the 2005 Brittany Nicole Loritts murder investigation.
Anne Rothwell, who produces “Nightmare Next Door,” said it is a fairly new series about homicides in small towns.
“So it’s usually kind of idealistic Americana, where stuff like this is foreign to these small towns,” Rothwell said. “And the victims are innocent victims.”
Rothwell said the program will show how the murder of 18-year-old Loritts and the arrest and plea of her then 46-year-old stepfather Reginald Weeks Jr. affected the community, investigators and families involved.
“This one was really interesting because of the dynamic of the stepfather,” Rothwell said. “You kind of didn’t see it coming.”
Barber said he spent 11 hours with a film crew Feb. 11, and four hours the next day. The filming took place at the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and on Barber’s farm.
“They came out and filmed a lot of the stuff at the farm,” Barber said. “They call it a hero shot, just part of what I do when I’m not working.”
Barber said the crew seemed to be mesmerized that he owned a farm and cows, and that he fed his cows daily.
Barber’s seen “Nightmare Next Door” before, he said.
“It’s very interesting,” he said. “It would be a good training tool for investigators to look at to get ideas on how they work cases.”
Loritts was murdered July 11, 2005, in the Scales Street home where she lived with Weeks and her mother, Angela Johnson Weeks.
Weeks told investigators he found Loritts lying in her bed stabbed in the neck when he returned home that afternoon for paperwork related to his father’s construction business.
But Weeks quickly became the target of the investigation and was arrested Aug. 16, 2005.
Authorities charged Weeks with first-degree murder and subsequently with first-degree rape, and prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty if he was convicted.
In January 2008, Weeks entered an Alford plea, which allows defendants to avoid admitting guilt while acknowledging prosecutors have enough evidence to obtain a conviction. A judge sentenced Weeks to between nine and 12 years in prison.
During the 15 hours of filming and interviews for the TV show, Barber said, he revealed details that no one has ever heard.
After Weeks was sentenced, Barber went to see him in the Rowan County jail.
“My curiosity was killing me,” Barber said. “Right after he pled guilty I went over and made him a visit in the jail.”
Barber said he wanted to ask Weeks if Loritts’ mother was involved at all in her murder.
“We had problems with Brittany’s mother not cooperating at all,” Barber said.
Weeks began crying, the detective recalled, and said, “the only thing that she is guilty of is loving me too much,” Barber said.
He said Weeks told him in detail what happened July 11, 2005, in the family’s Scales Street home, and he admitted to things he hadn’t before, such as having sex with Loritts.
“What a lot of people don’t know, Reggie Weeks never admitted to us during the investigation he had taken part in that,” Barber said. “We knew all along he was wanting to. He had been wanting to tell it for years.”
On the day of Loritts’ murder, Barber said, Weeks told him he argued with his stepdaughter.
“He had taken a coat hanger,” Barber said. “And at some point in time, he didn’t say when, he took the coat hanger and started strangling her with it.”
Barber said police knew the coat hanger was one of the weapons Weeks used.
“He choked her so much that she passed out,” Barber said. “He actually thought he had killed her.”
Barber said Weeks told him he went into the kitchen and got a paring knife and stabbed Loritts in the neck “to make it look like something else.”
“That was the wound that killed her,” Barber said.
Barber said Weeks told him he didn’t rape Loritts the day he killed her, but he did something to her so that investigators would think she was raped.
Investigators did not find Weeks’ DNA on Loritts, according to court testimony.
In addition to Barber, the show will feature interviews about the case with Hall, the Salisbury police detective; State Bureau of Investigations Agent Steven Holmes; Brittany’s half-sister, Asti; and others.
Barber said he always thought this particular case would make a great show.
In fact, he said, the first time he saw “Nightmare Next Door,” he thought of Brittany Loritts and Reginald Weeks. Three weeks later, he got a call from producers.
“It was enjoyable,” Barber said. “You don’t get a chance to do that very often.”
The episode of “Nightmare Next Door” focusing on the Loritts murder is expected to air sometime this summer.