WINDSOR, N.C. (WNCT) — Tuesday marked 30 years since a gruesome incident where a gunman walked into a Bertie County grocery store, killed three people and badly injured two others.
In what has been dubbed the Be-Lo Murders, it’s a cold case in Bertie County that the Windsor Police Department is still accepting any information about that can lead to who the murderer was.
Jasper Hardy Jr., of Edenton, who wasn’t hurt, told the suspect that he couldn’t identify him. Wallace Perry, the Bertie County Sheriff at the time, told The Associated Press the gunman replied: ″ ‘I’m going to let you live, big man.’ ″
The victims who survived provided a description of the event and the person responsible to law enforcement. They said an armed male who was already in the store on June 6, 1993, around 6:15 pm, rounded up six victims, bound them with duct tape and proceeded to stack them in three piles. He shot into all three piles with a .45 caliber pistol, killing three people. A fourth person was shot, and a fifth was stabbed. The sixth was not hurt.
After the shootings, officials said the suspect placed the six people back on the floor face-down in a puddle of blood, Perry said.
″He was lucky,″ said Perry about the victim who was not hurt. ″He felt the trauma when the man on top of him was shot.″
Those who were killed were Joyce Coburn Reason, 36, of Windsor; manager Grover Lee Cecil Jr., 47, of Ayden; and cleaning-crew member Johnnie Rankins Jr., 48, of Edenton. Reason and Cecil were shot once in the head and Rankins was shot in the back.
Cleaning-crew workers Thomas E. Hardy, 48, of Edenton and Sylvester Welch Jr., 40, of Hertford, were hospitalized in critical condition. Hardy’s throat was slashed and a butcher knife was broken off in his back. Welch, who was shot in the back, managed to crawl to a store phone and call the police.
The surviving victims described the suspect as a slender and solid-built black male who looked around 30 years old. He had light brown eyes that were slanted and a narrow nose bridge that may have possibly endured a sports injury. He was sporting a military-style haircut.
Police said the motive was robbery, and that about $3,000 was taken.
If you have information about this case, call the Windsor Police Department (252) 794-3111.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.