One arrested in attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery in Spencer

Published 6:50 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

SPENCER — Sheriff’s deputies have arrested an East Spencer man they say shot, kidnapped and abandoned another man on an isolated section of Old Union Church Road Monday.

Deputies on Wednesday arrested Joseph “AJ” Robert King, a 35-year-old East Spencer resident. King faces charges that include: robbery with firearms or other dangerous weapons, attempted murder, kidnapping and failure to appear or comply. He was booked into jail under a $1 million secured bond.

King’s arrest comes after Johnny Leonard of Salisbury was spotted on Tuesday walking down Old Union Church Road without pants and covered in blood.

In a news release, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office said Leonard and King knew each other and gave King a ride on Monday to a location near Food Lion in Spencer. King allegedly used a handgun to shoot Leonard multiple times, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Then, King drove Leonard to an isolated section of Old Union Church Road, the Sheriff’s Office said.

King robbed Leonard of his wallet and his green Subaru, shot Leonard again and covered the victim’s body with trash, the Sheriff’s Office said.

After being left on the side of the road, Leonard woke up the next morning and made his way to Old Union Church Road, where he was spotted by a motorist, the Sheriff’s Office said. Leonard was able to communicate with first responders when found. He was transported to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he was treated for multiple gunshot wounds.

Leonard’s condition was not immediately available Wednesday evening.

Sheriff’s deputies said they obtained arrest warrants and search warrants for King on Wednesday. Deputies and East Spencer police found King hiding in a camper on his property on West Division Avenue, according to the news release.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at