Posted in C-Haze

Be-Lo Murders

In honor of my recent return to my home state of North Carolina, I thought I’d highlight one of my pet cases from right here in the Tar Heel State.

Windsor, NC is a small town in northeastern NC, in what’s known as the Inner Banks part of the state. The population (as of 2018) is roughly 3,630 people. The town’s pretty diverse, compared to other small towns in the area- approximately 45% white, 53% black.

On June 6, 1993, two employees of the Be-Lo Grocery store locked up for the night. It was Sunday, and the store closed at 6 PM. Shortly thereafter, four members of a third-party cleaning crew that had been hired by the store owners arrived to begin their shift. By the end of the evening, three people would be dead, two would be seriously injured, and one would escape physically unharmed.

A man had come into the store earlier, prior to its closing, hiding inside until after the place had been locked up for the night. He robbed the store of more than $3,000 in cash and money orders, and forced manager Grover Cecil, along with cashier Joyce Reason to the rear of the store. He then made Cecil get four cleaning crew members to join them in the rear aisle.

The manager was then forced to bind the other five, using duct tape and dog leashes. When finished, the perpetrator bound Cecil in a similar fashion. He then stacked the six victims on top of each other in three stacks; two people in each stack, and began shooting with a .45 caliber hand gun. He fired three shots – one through each stack – killing three people before his gun jammed. The deceased were Grover Cecil, Joyce Reason, and a cleaning crew member named Johnnie Rankins. A second cleaning crew member was also hit by one of the three bullets, but survived. His name was Sylvester Welch.

With his gun jammed, the killer walked away from his captives, returning shortly with a knife, which he found in one of the rear storerooms. He then stabbed another cleaning crew member- Jasper Hardy- multiple times in the throat and back with such force the knife broke. The sixth victim, the final member of the cleaning crew, was left unharmed. His name, Thomas Hardy. Hardy had been placed on the bottom of one of the stacks the killer had shot through, so the bullets had missed him altogether. He pled with the murderer to spare him, claiming he wouldn’t be able to identify him anyway. The killer, it seems, believed him.

The man then gathered the money he’d stolen, the knife he’d found inside the store, and the store keys and left.

He has never been found.

Sylvester Welch, though gravely injured, crawled to the front of the store and called for help, leaving a trail of blood. The carnage was the worst first responders had ever seen. In interviewing the survivors, key information was learned. The suspect was described as a black male – initially thought to be in his 20s, this was later revised to an older man, possibly in his 30s. The man was tall, 6’0″-6’2″, with short hair, light brown eyes, and weighing approximately 170-200 lbs.

The man claimed to have been an ex-police officer, fired from his job over a drug deal gone wrong. Witnesses say they saw a small white car with Maryland plates driving north on US 17 immediately following the crime.

Authorities are skeptical that the man is ex-law enforcement, as this tip led nowhere. He may have just made up a story to tell to evade capture. Some have speculated that he may have been a current or past member of the military, as there are several bases relatively close by.

Was this his first time?

About a year after the brutal Be-Lo murders in Windsor, NC, another Be-Lo store was robbed in nearby Hertford, NC. The similarities are eerie.

According to assistant store manager Dwayne Gilliam (who had once worked at the Windsor store in the ’80s), a gunman hid in the Hertford store until closing. He bound Gilliam and a co-worker with duct tape and a dog leash, escaping with an unknown amount of money. Thankfully no one was killed.

Still…

Hiding in the store until it’s closed? Binding victims with duct tape and a dog leash? Stealing cash? If unrelated, it seems this was a copy-cat crime, at best.

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

There is a 30,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the Be-Lo killer.

Posted in Abuse, Clay Waller, cold cases, Domestic Violence, Jacque Waller, Marriage, Missing, Murder, News, Relationships, True Crime

Exceptional Women Are Not the Exception

I’ve been closely following the case of Jacque Waller. Jacque was a woman from a town near Cape Girardeau, MO who disappeared in June of this year. Jacque had gone to her estranged husband’s house to pick up their son after a divorce hearing, and was never seen or heard from again.

The husband, Clay Waller, told authorities that the two had gotten into an argument, and that Jacque had stormed off. Her car was later found abandoned on the highway about three miles from the husband’s home, with no trace of the missing mother.

After months of denying his involvement, Clay Waller reportedly confessed to his father in federal court that he killed Jacque and dumped her body in a hole.

As yet, he has not been charged.

There is an epidemic involving the disappearance of women.

Almost daily we hear the news that another woman has vanished, only to be found brutally murdered days, weeks, months, or even years later.

Sometimes, they’re never found at all.

Too often, the last people to see these women alive are their boyfriends, fiancées, spouses or ex-lovers.

Rather than deal with the issues that come with involving themselves in a troubled or failed relationship, many men turn to murder, turn to making their “problem” disappear-  and quite literally so.

This, unfortunately, gives a whole new- and terribly morbid- meaning to the term “Til death do us part”.

The numbers certainly support the fact that domestic violence is an epidemic, with some studies listing homicide as anywhere from the second to the fifth most common cause of death among women. That said, I don’t want to get too caught up in statistics. One doesn’t need to be an expert to realize that women are being victimized by their male partners at an alarming rate.

I’d like to shift the focus from the numbers to the empowerment of women.

No one chooses to be the victim of homicide, obviously. A woman doesn’t get involved in a relationship thinking that her other half is the one who will kill her some day.

Be that as it may, many women tend to make terrible mistakes when choosing their partners.

All too often the warning signs are ignored, the writing on the wall has been scrubbed away by women who are willing to take deadly risks to be in a relationship. We are all too capable of working against ourselves, and against our best interests. Women have to stop wiping away the writing on the wall- and need to start paying attention to it.

I am in no way blaming victims of homicide or victims of domestic violence. I have experienced domestic assault first-hand and have an intimate knowledge of the pure evil that comes part and parcel with those who prey on women.

What I have learned, as part of my personal journey, is to identify the warning signs, listen to my gut, and trust my instincts.

Perhaps the most important lesson of all was to learn to love myself for who I am- not who someone else may want me to be.

I submit that learning to understand our value as women, learning to appreciate who we are as individuals, understanding that which we can contribute to the world is not just vital to our self-esteem, but is also critical to our safety and our survival.

A woman who loves and respects herself, a woman full of confidence and purpose, a woman with goals and solid plans, is less likely to be victimized.

No human deserves to be victimized by anyone, and they especially don’t deserve it at the hands of their spouses, lovers and ex-lovers. It’s true that no one, including women, can guarantee their safety in every situation, but we can be empowered, and we can make better decisions.

We can decrease the likelihood that we will find ourselves victimized, missing…

… Dead.

Once we can learn to appreciate who we are, we can make better choices involving men who do not love and respect us at least as much as we love and respect ourselves.

When it comes to dating and marriage, we need to stop thinking of ourselves as the exception, rather than the rule.

Yes, ladies, we are wonderful and unique. We have different talents and abilities, and what we bring to our relationships cannot be duplicated by any other human on this planet.

None of that, however, means we’ll be treated any differently than any other woman has ever been treated when it comes to certain men.

Some men are abusers, and it really is just that simple.

The fact that they abuse women has nothing to do with who we are- including our flaws, or our shortcomings- and has everything to do with who they are. Some men may try to convince us otherwise, but their words do not make reality.

If a potential suitor has a history of violence, the chances are good that this man is still capable of being violent. This is true regardless of all the wonderful things we may feel we can do for this suitor that all the other women in his life were unable/unwilling to do.

If a boyfriend’s temper seems a little close to the boiling point over minor issues while dating, it will get worse once married, worse still during pregnancy, and will continue escalating in the years following childbirth.

Yes, it will.

We are exceptional women- all of us- but we are being irresponsible to assume that we are the exception.

It’s time we stopped being victims.

Dedicated to Jacque Rawson Waller. My thoughts and prayers are with your children, family and friends. RIP, and know you were loved by many, near and far.