Saturday, June 13, 2015

Unsolved : The BE-LO Murders

BERTIE COUNTY – Windsor N.C. Sunday, June 6, 1993. The citizens of the quaint quiet town of Windsor, North Carolina were winding down a lazy Sunday afternoon.  The late spring afternoon was quietly slipping into a sleepy Sunday evening. A Sunday evening that would leave the citizens of this town of 4000, shocked, scared, and in a state of disbelief.

Around 6:00 PM, the local BE-LO  grocery store had just closed. Inside remained a cleaning crew and what remained of the scheduled store employees. Little did the six people know locked inside with them was a cold blooded killer.

Mayhem, carnage and murder was about to ensue in an unimaginable ruthless manner. Reported presumptions concur the slender solid built medium complexion perpetrator had hidden inside the store before closing time. With the threat of anyone entering the store removed, he emerged and proceeded to round up the cleaning crew and store personnel.

Reports state after the man consolidated the employees in a back room of the store he duct taped them together in pairs. Bound together in twos, they were stacked into three piles. The gunman then proceeded to shoot into the stack, killing three and injuring four with gunfire. Authorities surmise the gunman stacked the employees before shooting them to preserve ammunition. If this is true, the gunman’s math deceived him. Reports confirm at this juncture, the gunman had two people that were not wounded by the gunfire. This would explain how the attack escalated to an even bloodier level.

He resorted to a knife as his second tool of destruction.

A fifth victim that escaped the barrage of gunfire was subjected to brutal stab wounds from a knife the gunman retrieved from a back room in the store. Detectives reported the victim being wounded the throat and in the back. The wound to the back was reported to be so forcefully inflicted; the knife broke off in the victim’s back.

“He just went about it methodically. He knew his purpose and he did it,”- Retired Windsor Police Chief Rodney Hoggard.

A sixth victim of the incident was not injured.

The killer slipped out of the store and into the darkness of the southern night never having been seen or heard from again.

Reports state the aftermath of the bloody episode found cleaning crew member, Tony Welch still alive and bloodied from his wounds and those of the store cashier stacked on top of him. Welch, managed to muster the strength to get up and struggled to a phone where he summoned the Police.

“He said there was so much blood, he said his hands were tired, their hands were tied and he said that his hands came loose because of all the blood. And he crawled out from under her to go to the front of the store and that’s when he called 9-1-1. -Welch’s wife told 9 on your side in a 2006 interview.

The composite below is the only image available of this heinous killer.

At the time of the incident, the killer was described as a black male with medium complexion, about 6' to 6' 2?, 170 to 200 lbs., with a slender build, military-style haircut, slanted eyes and a narrow nose bridge. It’s been reported his nose appeared as if it had suffered a past sports injury.

His brutal carnage left Store manager, Bud Cecil, cashier, Joyce Reason, and cleaning crew member, Johnnie Rankins dead. Tony Welch survived the attack, but in 2005 lost his battle against cancer.

Two thousand fourteen will mark 21 years since the bloodiest Sunday in the 247-year existence of this small Eastern N.C. town. Questions about that fateful Sunday evokes an unsettling ambiance among the locals. It’s an unsolved case of the most unnerving kind. The who and the why remains unanswered. Then there is the where. Where is the individual who so ruthlessly attacked and killed seemingly without conscience that dark Sunday evening? Outsiders asking questions are understandably scrutinized and sized up. Answers are guarded, curt, and based on reports. The unspoken proverb appears to be “it's better to be safe than sorry. There is a killer still on the loose”.

“Things like that you know you never forget, you never forget. It’s the worst thing I’ve seen in approximately 31 years,”  - Bertie County Sheriff  John Holley

If you have information about this case, call the Windsor Police Department (252) 794-3111 or the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation at (800) 334-3000.

A reward of $30,000 is being offered to information leading to the BE-LO  murder suspect’s arrest.

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