08/28/05 — 22 Wayne murder cases unsolved

View Archive

22 Wayne murder cases unsolved

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on August 28, 2005 2:03 AM

Nineteen people have been murdered in the last 10 years in Wayne County, and no one has been charged with the crimes.

Three other people were murdered in cases more than 25 years old. And their killers remain at large.

The head of a man was found on the bank of the Neuse River, and a badly decomposed body was found near the Greene County line. Neither person has been identified. Officials believe that neither was murdered here but that both bodies were dumped here.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office and Goldsboro police are still investigating these unsolved murders. In many cases they have "a person or persons of interest," but they do not have enough information to obtain a warrant. For some unsolved murders, only one piece of information that might lead to an arrest and conviction is missing.

"We hope a review of these cases will jog the memory of the people," Goldsboro police Sgt. David Kelly said.

"We hope this will rekindle memories and maybe someone can give us additional information," Sheriff Carey Winders said. "Maybe someone has talked to someone about these cases."

Winders said the State Bureau of Investigation has extensive files on the cases.

Anyone with information on these unsolved murders should call Goldsboro-Wayne County Crime Stoppers at 731-2255, the Sheriff's Office at 731-1481 or Goldsboro police at 705-6572.

Goldsboro police reported 58 murders in the last 10 years. Fifteen remain unsolved. Kelly said a person or persons of interest were developed in 12 cases.

Kelly defended the number of unsolved murders, saying, "We're close to the state average for the clearance rate, 77 percent."

The Sheriff's Office has five recent unsolved murders and the two unidentified bodies.

Kelly said solving these old cases "depends on the willingness of the public to come forward with information to help us prosecute them. Some cases don't have witnesses.

"Any information we receive, no matter how small or insignificant, it's important that we get it," Kelly said. "We may get the same information two or three times, but we'd rather hear from someone than not hear from someone."

Kelly said many older cases occurred when crime labs could not process evidence that authorities needed.

"Under today's new DNA standards, we hope we can resubmit evidence and get information that way."

Three 10-year-old murders in Goldsboro were solved with DNA evidence that linked Linwood Forte to the crimes. Forte was arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced to death.

But Kelly cautioned, "Not every case we investigate has DNA evidence, and we have to use other methods to get an arrest and conviction."

In some crimes, a possible $1,000 cash reward from Crime Stoppers has been sweetened by additional rewards, including up to $5,000 from the Governor's Office.

Here is a look at the unsolved murders:

*Margaret Ann Pender: The body of Mrs. Pender, 29, was found Nov. 26, 1974, by hunters in woods off N.C. 581 and Rosewood Road. She was fully clothed and had not been sexually assaulted, according to autopsy results. She was seen last the day before while leaving work at Wayne Memorial Hospital, and she was supposed to go to a Wayne Community College class at Greenwood Middle School but never showed up. Her car was found in a parking lot near the Courthouse. She was married to James Clifton Pender, a Goldsboro city employee. Several people were interviewed, but there was not enough evidence to justify charges. The Sheriff's Office, SBI and police investigated. Former Gov. James Holshouser signed a proclamation offering a $2,500 reward.

*Charlie and Fannie Barley: The bodies of Charlie, 84, and his wife, Fannie, 65, were found Oct. 7, 1978, in their bed in their home on a dirt lane near Salem Church Road. They had been bludgeoned to death late Friday or early Saturday, according to a medical examiner. Both were seen last the afternoon before. A salesman who had come to collect a bill found the bodies. Money and jewelry were not taken, but a shotgun was missing. People were interviewed, but not enough evidence was found to justify charges. Former Gov. Jim Hunt signed a proclamation offering a $5,000 reward.

*Machelle Ranae Wynn: The body of Miss Wynn, 17, a Goldsboro High School student, was found Aug. 29, 1995, along a woods line in the 800 block of Retha Street. She was staying with friends and had started to walk from Lincoln Homes to Goldsboro High School. Gov. Mike Easley signed a proclamation offering a $3,000 reward. Investigator: Mike Horstmann.

*Jared Graybeal: The body of Graybeal, 17, an Eastern Wayne High School student, was found April 4, 1996, in a farm field in Lenoir County, just off U.S. 70. He was seen last in a white car in the parking lot of the former Cafe Edelweiss on North Berkeley Boulevard near New Hope Road. Investigator: Sgt. David Kelly.

*Thomas Elijah Beaman Jr.: Beaman, 68, returned to his home at 803 Simmons St. on June 6, 1998, from a morning auction, confronted two intruders inside and was murdered. A neighbor heard the sound of breaking glass and saw a black man flee from the home. Knowing a white man lived in the home, she called 911. Police have not announced the cause of death, but friends said Beaman, a retired civil service employee, was stabbed. Former Gov. Jim Hunt signed a proclamation offering a $5,000 reward, and Beaman's friends have offered another $1,500. Investigator: Dwayne Dean.

*Quincy Edwards: Edwards, 21, was found Jan. 8, 1999, at 1308 Higgins St., where he lived alone. He died from a single gunshot wound. Investigator: Sgt. Anthony Carmon.

*Kim-Sue Robinson: Ms. Robinson, 27, was found dead at 2:30 p.m. March 18, 2001, in her home at 408 N. Carolina St. She had worked the night before at a convenience store. She lived with her 7-year-old son and her roommate, Howard Searles, who reported the death. Investigator: Dale Foster.

*Sharon Roseann Helphrey: Ms. Helphrey, 40, lived alone in a mobile home at 103 Lou Alma Drive, where her children visited occasionally. She had not been seen for three days. Friends checked on her at 11:30 p.m. April 2, 2001, and found her beaten to death. At one point, detectives said, as many as seven people were considered as suspects or those who might have knowledge of her death.

*Tameka Domanic Woodard: Woodard, 22, of 308 E. Walnut St., was killed June 10, 2001, during a drive-by shooting at 613 N. James St., where he was visiting and, at times, lived. Several people frequented the home that was occupied by Ronnie Swinson. Investigators said several rifle shots had shattered two windows and two vehicle windows. Investigator: Sgt. Tony Carmon.

*Lawrence Lee Jones: Jones, 25, was found dead at 9:32 p.m. June 25, 2001, in his home at 302-A Brazil St. He died of multiple gunshot wounds. Police had responded to a domestic dispute about a woman being assaulted by a man in Jones' apartment. When they arrived, they found Jones on the porch with several bullet wounds. Investigator: Chad Calloway.

*Decarlo Montrel Hamm: Hamm, 26, died Dec. 17, 2001, of a single gunshot wound. He was found in the back yard of his home at 220 Wayne Ave. At the time, police said they did not have a motive or a weapon. Investigator: Chad Calloway.

*Oswald Birt: Birt, 31, was attending a New Year's Eve party at the now-closed C&L Lounge at 614 N. John St. After several gunshots were fired into the business, the customers fled to the parking lot. Birt was found Jan. 1, 2002, behind his car, dead from a single gunshot. The lounge was closed later under the public-nuisance law. Investigator: Sgt. David Kelly.

*Taneka Michelle Butler: Ms. Butler, 21, of 708 E. Walnut St. was shot fatally Jan. 9, 2002, in front of a home at 105 N. Slocumb St. Two Goldsboro men were charged with the crime, but later the charges were dismissed.

*Latisha Evette Kornegay: Ms. Kornegay, 25, was working as a cashier at the Check-N-Go store at 508 N. Spence Ave. Her body was found by a regular customer at about 11 a.m. Nov. 2, 2002, about an hour and a half after the store's normal opening time. The customer said the front door was locked, and after waiting 50 minutes, he went to the back door and found it open. He found the body and called 911. Ms. Kornegay, who had two small children, was alone and there were no signs of a break-in. Company officials in Ohio have announced a reward of up to $25,000. Investigator: Mike Horstmann.

*Amanda Dale Turner Bullock: The body of Ms. Bullock, 51, was found July 4, 2003, in woods along the railroad track behind Clark Auction Co. at 2315 N. William St. Investigator: Dwayne Dean.

*Kelly Donnell Lamm: Lamm, 21, was found at 2:40 p.m. July 21, 2003, in the driver's seat of a car on Moye Road, north of Fremont. He died of multiple gunshots in what has been called a drug-related killing. He was last seen alive at 10 p.m. July 19, 2003. Detectives believe that there were witnesses to the murder. None have come forward.

*Warren Gemale Cox: No one had seen Cox, 50, for about six days. A relative who had gone to check on him found his body at 8:10 a.m. July 23, 2003, in his home at 2806-D McLain St. Investigator: Mike Horstmann.

*Latasha T. Sutton: Ms. Sutton, 20, was killed by a gunshot wound. Her body was found Aug. 26, 2003, in her home, Apartment 50, in Jefferson Court at 1100 N. Jefferson Ave. Investigator: Chad Calloway.

*Esteban Cruz Martinez: Martinez, of Greenville, S.C., was found dead at about 9:30 p.m. March 13, 2004, outside of a mobile home that was off Camp Jubilee Road near Seven Springs. Death was caused by a single gunshot wound to the back of the head. The victim was wearing a black ski mask with eyeholes and held a handgun. The residents have not been found. Although several people were in the area at the time of the shooting, detectives said none provided helpful information. Sheriff Winders said Martinez's family found out about the death from an unknown person and claimed his body at Wayne Memorial Hospital but never talked to detectives.

*Otis Dwayne Davis: Davis, 16, was fatally shot July 5 during an encounter with several people in a Honda Accord in front of his home at Lot 215, Tanglewood Mobile Home Park, off Central Heights Road. Police arrested and charged Randy Hayes, 18, of Ditchbank Road as an accessory after the fact of murder. Investigator: Mike Moore.

In two other cases, the victims could not be identified. A badly decomposed body was found in 1996 near Old Mill Road, near the Greene County line. At the time, the victim was thought to be a migrant farm worker. Sheriff Winders said no one has inquired about the case.

A human head was found April 2, 2002, along the Neuse River bank near Bill Lane Boulevard, the Southern Connector. Dubbed "the Mystery Man," the victim was believed to be about 22 or 23 years old. The head was reconstructed by forensics experts, and Winders said he received calls from The Discovery Channel about it. Authorities in Chesterfield County, Va., thought that it might be one of their missing persons, but dental records did not match their victim.

Two defendants were arrested and charged with other recent murders. Both were freed. Thurman McKinney was acquitted in 1997, and Timothy Smith's trial ended in a mistrial in 2002.

McKinney was charged with the murder of Gloria Castro in 1996 in a vacant house on Spruce Street. Smith was charged with the murder of shopkeeper Yahia Saleh "Ali" Alahwas of North William Street in 2000, for $150.

"We arrested the individuals responsible," Sgt. Kelly said, "but through the court process, what happened, happened. We consider them closed-cleared cases."