04/21/13 — Victim found dead in yard; suspect arrested

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Victim found dead in yard; suspect arrested

By John Joyce
Published in News on April 21, 2013 1:50 AM

Deputies arrived in seven minutes. Within an hour, they had the shooter.

Forty-five minutes later, law enforcement officials had the gun that was used in Saturday's murder of Richard Sylvester Thomas, 28, who was found shot to death just before noon outside a residence at 2572 New Hope Road.

His body was on the grass, under a white sheet, a few yards away from a white cross-over vehicle with both passenger doors left open.

Members of his family looked on from behind a strand of yellow caution tape.

The alleged shooter, the victim's older brother, 34-year-old Benjamin Adonis Thomas, sat handcuffed in the back of a K-9 officer's SUV.

According to a Wayne County Sheriff's Office report, the brothers had argued just two hours earlier, as they sat in the vehicle outside their aunt and uncle's mobile home.

Words were exchanged.

Minutes later, the younger Thomas staggered from the vehicle and collapsed in the yard.

He had been shot.

Benjamin Thomas fled, heading east on Old Jason Road.

He allegedly threw the gun in the weeds about a quarter-mile up the road, on the other side of the railroad tracks.

He was picked up by a Lenoir County deputy while walking along County Road an hour later and returned to the scene.

He was turned over to Wayne County investigators, who questioned him inside their patrol car.

But at that time, he wouldn't give deputies the location of the gun, so detectives went about sketching the scene and measuring distances -- the mobile home to the driveway; the road to the vehicle; the vehicle to the body.

Then Sheriff Carey Winders arrived on the scene and was briefed by his officers.

He stepped to the vehicle turned interrogation room and opened the door. He said a few words, and listened to a few more.

He then closed the door, walked across New Hope Road to where Maj. Tom Effler, commander of investigations, was standing with a few deputies.

He said a few words.

The K-9 officer, whose vehicle the suspect was in, then took off in the opposite direction.

"He's taking them to the gun," Effler said.