NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Paul Starnes remembers entering his grandmother's home hoping she was okay, but quickly realizing someone ransacked the house.
"It wasn't setting in," he said. "I figured the home was burglarized, but I still didn't know what had happened."
Investigators in Isle of Wight arrived soon after in September 2017 and discovered the bodies of Nancy Starnes and her son Kenneth inside the home. "It was a shock for a while," he said.
Two men were later arrested for the crimes and are charged with murder and burglary.
The incident had a profound effect on Starnes' life, and he decided to go back to school and become a paramedic. "A horrible thing happened and I wanted to make her proud, so that's when I was like I've been wanting to do this for a while. I talked about it and never did it, so now let me do it and make something good out of it," he said.
On May 31, he graduated from ECPI's program to become a paramedic. "I wanted to make something good come out of a bad tragedy," he said.
During the ceremony, he had two leftover tickets for his uncle and grandmother. As he crossed the stage, he knew their memories would be on his mind. "I think she'd be proud right now," he said.
Starnes is hoping to begin a new chapter out of this tragedy. "I want to help as many people as possible and save as many lives as possible," he said.