Two die in apparent murder, suicide

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 3, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
Bad blood between two eastern Rowan County men likely led to what Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten said appears to be a murder-suicide.
An official ruling on the deaths has not been made, Auten said.
The men who died are Bruce Yount Stewart Jr., 45, of 1174 Trexler Road, and Lester Clay Efird, 63, of 7308 Stokes Ferry Road.
The shootings happened in the front yard of the Trexler Road home shortly after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Auten said both men were shot in the chest with a 12-gauge shotgun.
Investigators have not identified which man was the shooter. Auten said authorities are trying to determine exactly what led to the shootings, but he said, “It appears to be the result of a domestic situation that has been ongoing.”
“It’s terrible, two families just get ripped apart,” he said. “No matter what the argument is about, nobody wins.”
He said deputies who responded to the shootings told him they have been called to the home in the past for disputes between the two men, possibly as recently as January.
A neighbor, who did not want to be named, said Efird’s estranged wife had been dating Stewart for about seven months.
“It was a shock. … We all tried to warn him,” she said.
The woman said the fighting between the two men had been going on since the couple began seeing each other.
Dena Peeler, one of Stewart’s family members on the scene Wednesday, said the death will leave a void in the family.
“Bruce is a great person. He would do anything for anybody,” she said. “He will be missed. I don’t think anybody can say anything bad about him. Everybody liked him.”
Peeler said Stewart is a graduate of East Rowan High School and a Rowan County native.
The Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the incident.
The results of autopsies being performed on the two men by the state Medical Examiner’s Office are expected to be available to investigators this afternoon, a press release form the Sheriff’s Office said.
The State Bureau of Investigation is assisting with the investigation.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.

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