Southwest Virginia community working to move on after one of their accused of being a serial killer

MENDOTA, Va. - A Virginia community is taking steps to heal after a neighbor was accused of a serial killing. 

Authorities say James Wright, charged with killing two women and a teenage girl, met his victims while working as a subcontractor for a traveling carnival. Washington County Sheriff Fred Newman described Wright as a serial killer. 

However, Mendota residents say they are determined to not let this one tragic event define the community, and that this will only bring them closer and make them stronger in the end

For Helene Holbrook, Mendota has been her home for nearly a decade

"I feel confident, I feel safe," said Holbrook. 

But recently, she's been on edge -- after finding out a man from her community is an accused serial killer charged with 3 counts of capital murder. 

"The thing that struck me is this is an extraordinary event to happen to ordinary people," said Holbrook. 

Holbrook says the community is in shock -- but is trying to get through this tragic time together. 

"If we haven't seen someone, we're checking in with each other," said Holbrook. 

To help ease concerns, Washington County Sheriff Fred Newman met with the community to answer any questions and provide some comfort, and offer advice on how to move on.  

"The key to is to be vigilant. If you something that doesn't look right, be attentive," said Newman. 

Step by step, together, these residents say they'll get through this

"I think when things get hard that doesn't weaken the community nor does it define a community," said Holbrook. 

The sheriff's department is offering a concealed carry class for the Mendota community at the beginning of June. Newman said before the murders, about 20 people were signed up. Now, there are 50 and counting. 

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