Saturday, December 19, 2009
Notorious Murders of the Queen City
Captain Francis Bradley
Captain Francis Bradley, a member of the Mecklenburg Militia during the Revolutionary War and considered by many to be "the strongest man around" was a well-respected citizen of Charlotte in 1780. When the British were on their retreat from Charlotte four of Colonel Samuel Bryan's Tory soldiers agreed to desert and go home by travelling at night and hiding in forested areas during the day. The foursome had found just such a place about a mile from Bradley's house the morning of October 14. About mid day Bradley took his gun and went out to look for some missing cattle and stumbled across two of the fleeing soldiers. Bradley questioned them and finally took them prisoners. The other two, who had remained undiscovered, attacked Bradley from behind. A violent scuffle ensued, until one of them got Bradley's own gun and shot him dead. A few weeks after his murderers escaped home, two were killed, the others were arrested and sent to a Salisbury jail. On trial, a John McCombs turned State's evidence and was spared. The other conspirator was hanged.
George Cutter/Delete Nycum
George King Cutter was a millionaire real estate developer accused of murdering his mistress, Delette Nycum in July of 1961. According to reports in the Charlotte Observer, Cutter and Nycum had maintained an affair since 1948. Their relationship had began to sour when Nycum was discovered beaten to death in a bus that Cutter had converted into a rolling apartment of sorts. He used the bus for family vacations and apparent tete-a-tetes.On trial for Nycum's murder, Cutter testified that he had parked the apartment bus near a suburban airport and had left Nycum inside while he returned home. A few hours later, he claimed, he became worried and returned to the bus, only to find Nycum dead. He also admitted that he and the dead woman's son had moved the body from the bus back to Nycum's Seventh St. apartment "to avoid scandal" and that "for no particular reason" he had burned the dress she was wearing, but he steadfastly maintained his innocence in her death.Nycum's death was particularly unsavory. Literally beaten to death, the coroner stated that she had died from "shock and external violence." A total of 251 bruises were found on her body.Despite evidence to the contrary, Cutter is found not guilty. His career, however is immeasurably damaged. He dies rejected by Charlotte society at the age of 53 in 1965. Delete Nycum's murder was never solved.
The name Denise Porch may not be familiar to some Charlotte residents - but long time Charlotteans will recall the story surrounding the young apartment manager easily. During a hot summer afternoon on July 31, 1975, Porch, manager of the Yorktown Apartments on Tyvola Road, was showing an apparent prospective tenant around the property. This was nothing unusual - Porch frequently gave tours of the site to prospective tenants. It was unusual, however, that Porch never returned after showing the property. Porch also resided in Yorktown, but a search uncovered no signs of a struggle inside her residence - and she left all of her personal belongings behind, including her vehicle and her purse, suggesting that she never returned to her home. Charlotteans and Americans nationwide were held captive by the national media attention that resulted from her disappearance. Quite literally, she vanished and was never seen again. Continued extensive searches produce no further clues as to Porch's whereabouts. In 1982, her family had her declared legally deceased, just seven years after her disappearance. In the mid-1980s a neighbor that lived a few hundred yards from the Yorktown Apartments came under suspicion for Porch's murder. Larry Gene Bell was found guilty of the murders of two young women from North Carolina in 1985 and sentenced to death. He maintained his innocence in Porch's case and was never formally charged in connection with her disappearance, but Porch physically resembled Bell's other victims and authorities believe he was responsible for her death. Bell was executed by the state in 1996. The question remains over 30 years later - where is Denise Porch's body?
Outlaws Motorcycle Massacre
Referred to as the worst mass murder in Charlotte history, four members of the Charlotte chapter of the Outlaws motorcycle gang and a visiting friend were gunned down as they slept on July 4, 1979. According to police, the scenario probably went something like this: two suspects weilding a 9mm and a 223 semi-automatic fired aproximately 40 shots. A guard on the front porch of the house - William "Waterhead" Allen - was likely awake and talking to the suspects when they opened fire. The four others inside the house - Outlaw members William "Mouse" Droneneburg, Randall Feazell, Leonard "Terrible Terry" Henderson and their friend, 19-year-old Bridgette Benfield - probably awoke to the sound of gunfire, but were unable to react quickly enough to escape. Police believe the massacre took less than 15 seconds total. The unsolved case is still open in Charlotte Police Homicide files and is reviewed as new information is received.
Kim Thomas was a prominent activist with the National Organization for Women (NOW) when she was murdered - her throat slashed - in her spacious southeast Charlotte home on July 27, 1990. Her husband, Dr. Edward Friedland immediately fell under suspicion and was charged with murder. The chargers, however, were abruptly dropped when a key witness's testimony was disallowed .In March 2003, an article published in the Charlotte Observer uncovered some startling bits of information from archives that had been previously sealed. The month before the murder, Friedland had asked an anesthesiologist about a paralytic drug and whether it could be detected. The court papers, many from confidential police files, examine Friedland's two-year affair and a troubled marriage he didn't think he could escape without great expense. The documents further revealed that Friedland talked of murdering his wife and contain an allegation that he made a joke about his wife after her death. None of that evidence was enough to convict Friedland and charges were dropped in 1995.
In 1997 Friedland filed civil charges against Marion Gales (who had worked for Thomas as a gardener) and was a chief suspect during the initial investigation. After evidence presented in a wrongful death suit, a judge ordered Gales pay Friedland 8.5 million dollars. In 2009, Gales, who has been in and out of prison most of his life, was allowed to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of LaCoya Monique Martin. Currently serving an eight-year and nine-month sentence at the Tabor Correctional Institute in Tabor City, N.C., He is expected to be released in 2016. Gales maintains he did not kill Thomas and the case remains unsolved.
Nobles & Burnette
Charlotte was wrought with pain over the deaths of two young police officers in October, 1993. Anthony Alford Nobles, 26, and John Thomas Burnette, 27, chased a suspect into the woods of West Charlotte the evening of October 5. Officers who arrived to back them up a few minutes later were stunned at their discovery: both men were dead - shot in the head. They were the first Charlotte police officers in Charlotte history to die together in such a manner. In the reaction that followed, residents struggled to understand while high school students raised money to buy bullet-proof vests for police. Recreational facilities in the inner-city community the officers served were dedicated to their memory. Arrested for their murders was then 32-year-old Alden J. Hardin, who had felony arrest records dating back to the mid-1980s. Hardin was convicted less than a year later for their deaths and is currently awaiting execution in North Carolina's Central Prison.
Henry Louis Wallace
In a 1994 Time magazine article on serial killings, called "Dances With Werewolves," author Anastasia Toufexis says of Wallace, "Women, taken with his sweet smile, solicitous attitude and pleasant looks, trusted him...They invited him to their homes for dinner, watched while he cradled their babies in his arms, accepted his invitations to date." Wallace was responsible for the death of nine young black women in Charlotte, North Carolina, between 1992 and 1994, who were raped and strangled to death. Wallace was sentenced to death and now awaits execution at Raleigh's Central Prison. In the years that have followed since his arrest and conviction, he has continued to be forthcoming about additional murders he committed, but has not been charged with. If Wallace is to be believed, then he may have committed as many as 20 murders across the world while he was on naval duty in various ports of call. Public Defender Isabell Day, who represented Wallace at trial, said of her client, "He is very sick, very mentally ill."
Sometime after 2:00 a.m. on March 29, 1997, Kim Medlin, a dancer at a Charlotte area nighclub, left her place of employment in her red Jeep with black-and-white cowhide seat covers and drove towards her home. She never completed the trip.Medlin's body was discovered the following day, partially covered by a pallet, some roofing shingles and brush. Her bra was up above her breasts, her sweatshirt was inside out, pulled over her head and wrapped around her wrists or lower arms. Later an autopsy would reveal abrasions on her knees consistent with her falling to the pavement, long scratches consistent with her body having been dragged, abrasions on the front of the neck and pinpoint hemorrhages in her eyes, all consistent with strangulation.Who would commit such a heinous crime? As it turns out - it was one of the men you're supposed to trust the most: a policeman. In this case, it was Josh Griffin, a Monroe policeman in training who'd noticed the attractive woman as she traveled from work to her home in Monroe, taking the same route almost methodically every night.Griffin was found guilty of first-degree kidnapping and first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
Ask any Charlottean about Rae Carruth and they'll easily recall the murderous story surrounding the third-year player for the NFL's Carolina Panthers. Speculation as to his motives for what transpired are generally the first topic of conversation: uncertainty about his career, money problems and the pregnancy of Cherica Adams.Described by the press as "Carruth's girlfriend," Adams was, without doubt, one of many.Carruth was not supportive of Adams, nor the impending birth of her baby. He was even less thrilled by the financial and emotional pressure the baby would put on his shoulders. According to police reports, Adams was critically wounded in a drive-by shooting while in her car. Carruth wasn't the shooter, but he was nearby and in car-phone communication with three men in the car from which she'd allegedly been shot. All four men were arrested for conspiracy to commit murder. Recorded cell phone conversations between Adams and a 911 Operator made the story even more sensational, as television news watchers were allowed to hear Adams screaming accusatory epitaphs at Carruth after she had been shot. Carruth was convicted of murder conspiracy in the shooting death of Adams, shooting into an occupied vehicle and using a gun to try to kill the baby she was carrying. Currently he is serving a sentence of at least 18 years and 11 months.
Freeman, a.k.a Aretha Scott, was an occasional drag performer in Charlotte's gay club scene and a well-liked employee at the dog groomer Posh Pets. It was no secret that he'd been known to turn tricks on the side for extra cash and that he'd done time for drug-related charges.It was his choice of tricks - a police officer - that may have eventually led to his death. According to a story in Creative Loafing, at about 3:30 am on January 8, off-duty vice officer Michael Marlow, who'd just come from a drinking party in the police parking deck hosted by his comrades on the vice squad, drove off with beer still in his car. Marlow headed for the North Davidson Street area where he eventually picked up Freeman, who was working as a prostitute that night. It is unclear what exactly transpired next, but apparently during an argument with Freeman over money Marlow fired his police gun twice. Freeman was jailed that night, although the charges were later dropped and officers involved in his arrest were either suspended or fired. Then, just five days before he was scheduled to testify at a police hearing surrounding the event, Freeman was found murdered on a North Church Street sidewalk. He had apparently bled to death from gunshots to the leg.To date, the case remains open and Freeman's death is still a mystery that captured more media attention for the drag diva than any stage performance.
This article originally appeared in Charlotte Magazine.