Salisbury Police Chief committed to solving 2015 and 2016 homicides
By Shavonne Walker
SALISBURY – When local law enforcement authorities have solved all of their homicides in the past year, it can be easy to forget the murders of the previous years. However, of the 17 collective homicides from area municipalities in 2015 and 2016, there are 10 that remain unsolved. Local authorities say they remain committed to bringing a resolution to those open cases.
Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes has said his department is making these unsolved cases a priority and in fact, he hopes that the department’s partnership with the Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center, which is a division under the U.S. Department of Justice, will help address these crimes.
Stokes has said that through the partnership with the Office of Justice Programs, the Police Department will be able to review these unsolved cases.
The following are homicides committed in 2015:
• Salisbury Police, Jan. 19, 2015. Oscar Miguel Aguilera, 24, was shot and found dead between two buildings at the Lakewood Apartment complex off Statesville Boulevard. He worked at DJ’s restaurant and had walked home. In March 2015, Jayquan Hamilton was charged in the death and pleaded guilty January 2017 to second-degree murder.
• Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, Feb. 11, 2015. Kimberly Allen, 40.
Allen was shot in the head and found inside the master bedroom of her home China Grove home. Authorities say Allen’s husband, Steven, 47, shot his wife then turned the gun on himself. No motive was ever given in the murder-suicide.
• Salisbury Police, March 7, 2015. Miguel Angel Urrutia, 24. Witnesses said they saw someone else get out of Urrutia’s black Chrysler and get into another vehicle. Police initially believed Urrutia’s car was involved in a wreck when it was found partially in a ditch at the intersection of Old Mocksville Road near Hawkinstown Road. Investigators quickly discovered he’d been shot. No suspect has ever been named and the murder remains unsolved.
• Salisbury Police, May 18, 2015. Steven Rosario, 18, was killed at South Fulton Street apartment that belonged to his uncle. Family and friends say the former North Rowan High School student had returned to the area from Florida to enroll back at the high school. The murder has not been solved and no suspect has ever been named.
• East Spencer Police, May 21, 2015. Kejuan Dishad Lamont Sweat, 22, was shot while sitting in a car in front of his South Long Street apartment, at the corner of West Cauble Street. His three children were also in the car, one of whom was a 4-year-old who was also shot. Sweat drove to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center for help and hit an exterior brick wall near the hospital. This murder has not been solved.
• Salisbury Police, Aug. 8, 2015. Jonathan Pierre Dillard, 30, was shot and found lying between two homes in a driveway at 828 Park Ave. near North Arlington Street. Neighbors heard possible gunshots hours before Dillard was found. He lived at the homeless shelter, but worked at Outback Steakhouse. No suspect was ever determined and the murder remains unsolved.
• Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, Dec. 18, 2015. The decomposed body of James Michael Beam, 57, was found on the side of a hill in the woods on River Road. Jessie Gary Rhodes pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two to three years in prison. He spent more than a year in jail. Hunters discovered the decomposed skeletal remains of Beam.
The following are homicides committed in 2016:
• Salisbury Police, Jan. 18, 2016. TaLisha Danielle Crowder, 19, a Pfeiffer University student was found dead inside a vehicle at a Long Street apartment complex. She had been shot once in the head. Her ex-boyfriend Brandon Jerron Hawkins quickly became a suspect and was arrested. The former couple broke up a week prior to her murder. Hawkins tried to then shoot himself, but the gun jammed. He would later attempt suicide twice. In March 2017, he accepted a plea deal and is currently serving just more than 28 years in prison.
• Salisbury Police, March 5, 2016. Devon McGee, 24, along with his brother, Antoine McGee, were shot behind the JC Price American Legion on Old Wilkesboro Road. Devon McGee died later at a Winston-Salem hospital. Police initially responded to the building just before 2 a.m. in response to a fight at a party there. No arrest has been made and no suspect has ever been named.
• Salisbury Police, April 3. Joseph David Walker, 37, was initially believed to be the victim of an apartment fire at Alexander Place Apartments, but once inside officials saw that Walker had been stabbed repeatedly. He and the man accused in his death, Christopher Brandon Washburn, were friends. Walker, an Iraq War veteran had only lived in Salisbury a short time. Washburn, also known as Jyn Soo, remains in the Rowan County Detention Center awaiting a trial.
• Salisbury Police, May 14, 2016. Larry “Turtle” Lamar Cruse, 27, was found shot to death inside his vehicle at North Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. Police responded to the area after reports shots fired. Cruse grew up in the neighborhood where he was gunned down, but had not lived there in recent years prior to this death. No arrest has been made in this case.
• Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, May 16, 2016. Barry “Mater” Dean Hepler, 56, was stabbed multiple times with a kitchen knife after a verbal argument turned deadly at a Woodleaf mobile home. Detectives said Satonia Yvette Gray, who often stayed at Hepler’s mobile home, got mad and stabbed him. She was seen in the mobile home park with a knife in her hand, but left before investigators arrived. Detectives had said Hepler managed to walk next door to his parents’ home to call 911 for help. When detectives arrived, Hepler was lying on the living room floor with several stab wounds in his chest area. Gray was convicted in May 2017 and is currently serving 18 years to 23 years in prison.
• Salisbury Police, May 24, 2016. LaCynda Diane Feimster, 38, was shot and killed during a home invasion at her Crown Point Drive apartment. When police arrived, Feimster was already dead. Feimster’s mother, Mary Gregory, had been hit in the face with a gun during the incident. She was taken to the hospital, where she was treated and released. Feimster was known by the nickname “L.C.” and was a longtime waitress at O’Charley’s. About a month after the homicide, Sindy Lina Abbitt and Daniel Real Albarran, were charged in the murder. Both remain in the county jail awaiting a trial.
• Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, June 17, 2016. A passerby spotted the nude, partially burned body of Amanda Kay Smith, 33, of Honeysuckle Lane, along Leonard Road. Three days after her death, Timothy Clarence Smith Jr., and his girlfriend Stephanie Dawn Hall, were charged with first-degree murder, robbery, second-degree arson. Rowan authorities say they took $400 in cash and bank cards from the victim, dumped her burned body in a ditch, then returned to her mobile home and set it on fire. Both remain in the Rowan County jail awaiting a trial.
• Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, July 18. The grandson of 75-year-old Joyce Ann Trexler called 911 to say someone had assaulted her. Curtis Wayne Trexler was charged the same morning of the seemingly hysterical call he made to 911. Authorities said Curtis Trexler brutally beat his grandmother and called 911 to cover his tracks. Investigators learned Curtis Trexler was a heroin user and his drug abuse had been a concern of his family for several years. About three weeks before the death, he used a Walmart credit card that he’d acquired in his grandmother’s name to buy a PlayStation 4. He remains in the county jail awaiting a trial.
• Salisbury Police, July 29, 2016. Reggie Jasmond Burke, 30, was found dead at Zion Hills Apartments on Standish Street. Police responded to the apartment complex in response to a “shots fired” call that came in just before 8:30 a.m. Police found Burke, dead, just beyond the tree line behind the complex, near a playground. It’s believed that Burke may have cut through a wooded area on a path leading to another apartment complex on Linn Lane, off Old Wilkesboro Road. Burke grew up in Salisbury and attended Salisbury schools. No arrest has been made in this case.
• Salisbury Police, Sept. 24. April Cora-Lucille Hall, 38, was found dead at a vacant home on East 11th Street. She was found by her partner and sister-in-law Melissa Cross at the home the two planned to move back into, Cross has said. When Cross got to the house, Hall was lying in the front yard with a gunshot wound. No suspect has ever been determined and no arrest made.
• Salisbury Police, Dec. 4, 2016. Two people were killed in what police have since said were connected crimes. Sharod Raheen Mathis, 21, Firewater Restaurant and Lounge, Avalon Drive; and A’yanna Allen, 7, 200 Harrel Street. Mathis was killed outside the restaurant/lounge after an altercation. He was taken to the hospital and later died. Police said just a few short hours later, 7-year-old A’yanna Allen was killed after a hailstorm of bullets flooded her grandmother’s home. No suspects have ever been named or arrested.
• Salisbury Police, Dec. 17, 2016. Police were called to Victory Street for a person who was not breathing. Police and medical responders found Albert Shelton Jr., 37, in the 700 block of Victory Street. EMS personnel began began uncovering the layers of clothing Shelton was wearing and saw he was bleeding from a gunshot wound. In February 2017, police charged Jamar Robinson in Shelton’s murder and in November, he accepted a plea agreement. Robinson was convicted on a lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to six and a half years to just over eight years in prison.
Anyone with information in any of these unsolved homicides is asked to contact the Salisbury Police at 704-638-5333 or Salisbury-Rowan Crime Stoppers at 1-866-639-5245.