A woman who helped police track a South Carolina killer on the loose says she is happy she contributed to getting another "ugly, ugly, very sick person off the streets."
Terri Valentine of Gastonia, N.C., and her husband Mike were the ones who called police about a burglary in progress at a neighbor's vacant house — not realizing that the man breaking in was fugitive "spree killer" Patrick Tracy Burris.
Burris, 41, had been terrorizing rural communities in South Carolina and murdered five people before dying in a shoot-out with police that happened after the Valentines notified authorities.
Terri and Mike Valentine grew suspicious and phoned 911 around 2:30 a.m. Monday when they saw lights shining through the window of the nearby home that had been empty for at least six months, she told FOX News.
"The house had been vacant for quite some time. The grass had grown waist-high. It was unusual to see any activity there," Terri Valentine said Tuesday.
She said she and her husband didn't immediately know the burglar was the same man suspected in five killings and targeted in a massive, multi-state hunt. From her vantage point, she said, Burris seemed to be drunk during the gun battle.
"I did not recognize that it was him," Valentine told FOX News. "I did not know until later it was him. ... He appeared to be intoxicated."
At first, she added, she was "really, really upset" about the drama unfolding before her because a police officer was shot and a person who turned out to be Burris was killed. Later, her reaction switched to one of relief, she said.
"There is just another ugly, ugly, very sick person off the streets," she said.
Meanwhile, those living in the communities where Burris stalked victims said they wanted answers about why he went on his bloody spree.
"I still want to know why he did it," said truck driver Matt Brown, 55, of Gaffney, S.C. "Why he killed so many innocent people. I guess we'll never know."
His wife, Gina, 53, clutched her husband's arm. "Thank God it's over," she said. "We spent a lot of sleepless nights wondering who was next."
Burris was a career criminal paroled just two months ago, authorities said. He was shot to death by officers investigating the North Carolina burglary complaint, 30 miles from where the string of murders started June 27.
Two people who were with Burris were taken into custody, then released, police said.
They were identified as Mark Stamey, 35, and his sister Sharon Stamey, 31. Police described them as transients who had a drug and criminal past.
Investigators said they had no idea why Burris did it.
"He was unpredictable. He was scary. He was weird," said Neil Dolan, deputy director of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
Ballistics tests showed Burris's gun matched the one that killed residents in and around Gaffney over six days last week, SLED Chief Reggie Lloyd said.
Burris had a long rap sheet filled with convictions for larceny, forgery and breaking and entering in states across the Southeast, including Florida, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. He had been paroled from a North Carolina prison in April after serving almost eight years.
"Look at this," Lloyd said, waving a stapled copy of Burris' criminal record. "This is like 25 pages. At some point the criminal justice system is going to need to explain why this suspect was out on the street."
Gaffney farmer Sam Howell, 61, was among dozens of people from Cherokee County at the news conference where authorities identified Burris.
"My prayers were answered. He got what he deserved," Howell said. "He scared the hell out of everyone. I guess we can feel better but we've lost some of our innocence."
People who normally kept their doors open and welcomed strangers stopped trusting their own neighbors.
Gina Brown said she spent many sleepless nights worried about her family's safety. She called the couple's four adult children, who still live in the area, every night to tell them she loved them and make sure they were safe.
"They thought I was crazy, but they understood," she said.
The mystery ended in Gastonia early Monday after the Valentines called police to report a suspicious sport utility vehicle in their neighborhood.
The Valentines were on edge because the Gaffney serial killer was just a short drive away.
They watched two people who sometimes visit the neighboring home get out of the vehicle, followed by a third man who matched the description of the killer: tall, heavyset, unshaven and wearing a baseball cap.
When officers arrived and went inside, Terri Valentine said she heard someone yell "put it down" and heard a gunshot.
Then "bam, bam, bam, bam. Next thing I know, all of Gaston County was here," she told The Associated Press.
Gaston County police said the other two people were in custody, but did not indicate whether they were facing charges. The county is 50 miles west of Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Gaffney killings happened in a 10-mile area over six days.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.