01/08/10 — Arrest made in cemetery death

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Arrest made in cemetery death

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on January 8, 2010 1:46 PM

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Steven Lynn Barbour

Jamie Lee Hinson

PRINCETON -- A man who knew Jamie Lee Hinson of Princeton, who was found dead in Evergreen Cemetery the morning of Dec. 3, now stands accused of killing him.

Steven Lynn Barbour, 29, of Fourth Street, Goldsboro, has been charged with murder, Wayne County Sheriff's Office Capt. Tom Effler said. He was arrested late Thursday and is in the Wayne County Jail without bond.

Barbour also faces two counts of arson. He is accused of burning an uninhabited dwelling, for fires apparently set in the Saulston area, causing a total of about $85,000 in damage to structures and property, authorities said.

Sheriff Carey Winders and Effler described the case as difficult, because authorities weren't immediately sure of Hinson's identity until DNA results returned from a state lab, weeks after his body was found on Dec. 3.

"This case, you actually had to start working backwards, because we didn't even have the identity of the victim," Effler said. "We were able to establish early in the case who we thought the victim was, but we couldn't confirm (the identity) until we got the information back from the SBI."

Detective Sgts. Richard Winders and Larry N. Mitchell have been working the case non-stop since the discovery of the body, the sheriff said this morning.

Detective Sgt. Shawn Harris was assigned to investigate the two fires, one on Antioch Road on Dec. 27 and another on Wayne Memorial Drive on Dec. 30.

"This is the only case they have worked on since this happened," Effler said. "A lot of overtime was put in to find this guy, and it was a great team effort."

The captain went on to say that detectives were "very confident that we have the right person," through interviews with witnesses.

Both Hinson and Barbour are originally from Johnston County, and knew each other from contact in the Princeton community, authorities said.

The Sheriff's Office is still declining to release a motive at this point in the investigation.

However, authorities now say a firearm was not involved in Hinson's death, but would not elaborate further about the manner of death. Effler had declined to say in previous interviews whether a gun had been involved.

Hinson was last seen around 2 a.m. at the Doll Palace, a "gentleman's club," in Selma. Hinson's father awoke on Dec. 3 to find his son had not returned home, and called police, saying it was unusual for Hinson to not come home.

As the case was being investigated, authorities re-leased a photo of a white van they believed might have been involved in the incident.

That lead turned out to be a dead end.

"The van ended up not having anything to do with it," Effler said. "But we'd like to express our appreciation for the public, for the help that they did give us."

Authorities also thanked the media for its interest in the case, saying that stories about the murder were instrumental in procuring the tip that led them to arrest Hinson. A $2,000 reward had been offered for information leading to an arrest.

Harris, the arson investigator, said warrants would be filed against Barbour today in connection with the two fires.

The first fire, on Antioch Road, caused around $20,000 in damages to an abandoned home. The second fire, at a Wayne Memorial Drive storage facility, caused $65,000 in damages to the structure and its contents, Harris said.

The sheriff said he wanted to thank the Johnston County Sheriff's Office and the police departments in Selma, Smithfield and Princeton, along with the State Bureau of Investigation, for their assistance in solving the case.

"A lot of times, the public doesn't see how hard ... (detectives) are working," Winders said. "I applaud their efforts and how much they did. We spend money to train people, and it's well-spent money. In cases like this, it certainly shows."