Unsolved murders haunt town 20 years later

BERTIE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) – It’s the worst crime one small town in North Carolina has ever seen. More than two decades later, the murders still haunt investigators, first responders, and an entire community.

“We are a small town, so you can imagine what the talk of the town was for years,” said Windsor Mayor James Hoggard.Jason Marks reports on 20-year-old cold case4

Windsor, North Carolina has a population of just under 4,000. Today, it is still as quaint as it was two decades ago, but the haze cast over the small town one Sunday night in June has never lifted.

“Everybody knew somebody that was involved, so it was just tremendous sadness in all of us,” Hoggard said.

June 6, 1993 — police say they got a call unlike any other in the town’s 246-year history. One of the first rescue members to get there was Joe Alexander.

Photos: Be-Lo murders investigation

“I pulled up on the Be-Lo, and one of the senior members of the rescue squad flagged me in,” Alexander said. “He said, ‘I need a little help. We have at least one dead and a robbery.’”

It was just after 6 p.m. and the grocery store had just closed. Three employees were finishing up as three cleaning crew members were just arriving.

Jason Marks reports on 20-year-old cold case3“We believe there was a person, or persons were hidden in the store when they did close,” said Windsor Police Lieutenant Ricky Morris, who picked the case up a couple years ago.

Nothing could prepare crews for what they found inside the grocery store. Alexander can still see it in his nightmares.

“It was a horrific scene,” Alexander said. “It was very scary.”

Police say the suspect(s) gathered up the six people in the store and held them at gun point. They were then bound by duct tape and taken to the meat cutting room.

“[The victims] were arranged in stacks,” Morris said.

Then the suspect opened fire on the pile of people, firing until he ran out of bullets. Then he grabbed a knife and stabbed the victims.

“We started down one of the aisles toward the meat-cutting room and that’s when it was terrible,” Alexander said. “[There were] bodies and blood. They were stacked and one of the people had a cutting knife through his back.”

One of the victims was able make his way to a phone and call for help. He was one of three found dead at the scene. Two others were critically injured. One, amazingly, wasn’t physically hurt at all.Jason Marks reports on 20-year-old cold case 2

“One of the guys was just totally wrapped up in blood,” Alexander said. “I laid him down out there and just knew he was dead too. He looked up at me and popped one eye open and shut it, but never moved another muscle.”

The Be-Lo shutdown after the murders. The building still stands, but it’s now Martin Community College. Inside there is a plaque remembering the three lives lost.

“The sheriff and the police chief at the time both are retired now, and they both just felt like they were leaving something hanging when they retired,” Hoggard said.

But still lingering over the town is the reality of knowing the person responsible for the horror has never been caught.

Bertie County Be-Lo murder“There is not a law enforcement agency that says they can solve every crime, but because it is such a heinous and terrible crime, it is very frustrating,” Morris said.

Morris said he continues to track down every lead. A few new ones come in every month. With help from the State Bureau of Investigation, police released a sketch of the suspect months after the crime. They also continue to run DNA found at the scene through national databases, hoping to get a hit.

“You have got to have closure on stuff like that,” Alexander said. “You’ve got to.”

If you know anything that could help investigators solve this case, please call the Windsor Police Department at 252-794-3111.



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