Eastern North Carolina's Most Wanted: Bertie County - WNCT

Eastern North Carolina's Most Wanted: Bertie County

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John Doe, BELO Murder Suspect John Doe, BELO Murder Suspect
WINDSOR, N.C. -

Investigators call it one of the worst cases in Eastern North Carolina History.

It's been 20 years since a man gunned down six people in the Be-Lo Grocery store in Windsor.

The man in this sketch is Bertie County’s “Most Wanted” person.

It was closing time at the BELO in Windsor on June 6, 1993.

Several employees and a cleaning crew were getting ready to leave when a stranger came out from hiding. The man told employees he was a police officer who had been fired, but investigators now believe that to be untrue. He took the 6 people to the back of the store, bound them with duct tape and forced them to the floor in piles.

"Three by three. Two on top of each other. And his intentions were to shoot through the stack. Save ammo," said Hoggard.

Detectives believe the man fired his gun until he ran out of ammunition. That's when they say he went to the kitchen and grabbed a butcher knife, slashing one of the victim's throats and stabbing him so hard the knife broke off in his back. Three people survived the attack. One was miraculously unharmed.

Store manager Bud Cecil, cashier Joyce Reason and cleaning crew member Johnnie Rankins died. Cecil's children still remember the day police knocked on their door.

"It's a feeling of disbelief and you know, you think they made a mistake. That it's not your family that's being affected," said Cecil's son, Michael.

"I just wish he was coming home and I know he's not," said his daughter, Jenny.

"There are details I'd like to forget," said daughter, Shannon Cecil.

They are details Cecil's children can't forget; especially with a killer still on the loose. There were surveillance cameras in the store, but they didn't work.  Although leads have poured in – 20 years later the case is still unsolved.

“The only regret I have...is this,” said retired Windsor Police Chief, Rodney Hoggard.

"Why do you say it's a regret?" asked 9 on your side’s Kristen Hunter

"Couldn't solve it,” said Hoggard.

"But there's still hope?” asked Hunter.

"Yes,” said Hoggard.

Investigators say the killer took a cloth shopping bag, $3,000 in cash and the store keys. Those items have never been recovered. There's a $30,000 dollar reward for anything with information that leads to an arrest.

If you have information about this case, call the Windsor Police Department (252) 794-3111 or the SBI (800) 334-3000.

   
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