About 17 percent of American adults have the herpes virus, but a rumor about the STD lead to the shooting of four people in Durham.
Brinton Marcell Millsap apparently shot three women and himself Friday night because of a rumor he had been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease."He did think that was the case, but it was a lie," said Anita D. Baker, the mother of one of the slain women, Alexandria J. Baker Pierce.
Pierce, 23, a rising senior at UNC Greensboro, made an impromptu trip to Durham on Friday to tell Millsap in person that the report that she had given him a disease was not true, Baker said. She left Greensboro in her green Honda Accord about 9 p.m. and picked up her friends, Amesha Alia Page-Smith, 24, and Adrianne Celeste Stevens, 22, both of Durham.
The seeds for the tragedy were planted on June 6, according to one of the victim's best friends.
On June 6, Page-Smith was talking on the phone to her best friend, Adriene Williams, about the previous weekend when someone kept beeping in, Williams said.
Williams, who grew up in Durham but now lives in Tennessee, talked to Page-Smith often, she said..
The previous weekend Page-Smith, Pierce and Stevens had gone to a cookout together, Williams said. Either during or after the cookout, Pierce and Millsap had sex, Williams said.
As they spoke on the phone June 6, Page-Smith said Millsap and his friend kept calling her phone saying they had heard Pierce had herpes, Williams said.
"Brinton said if he goes to the doctor and his test results come back positive, he was going to kill A.J. (Pierce),'" Williams said, recounting her telephone conversation.
"At that time me and Amesha were just joking about it," Williams said. "And I am just like, 'It is not that serious. I mean it is not HIV.'"
It's not clear if Millsap had any reason, besides the rumor, to suspect he might have herpes. A blood test takes eight to 12 weeks (after becoming infected) and lupus can cause false positive readings, said Dr. Peter Leone, an infectious disease specialist at the UNC School of Medicine.
This tragedy highlights the importance of talking seriously about STDs before having sex and being honest about it.