Tuesday, November 27

Has LeRoy Jernigan's Murderer Been Found? - UPDATED

Earlier in the month, I wrote an article for the Raleigh Chronicle about LeRoy Jernigan, a man who was killed while cleaning Circus Family Restaurant at 1600 Wake Forest Road in Raleigh. He had been shot once in the head, execution style.

News today says a man, Samuel Cooper, with a significant criminal history has been charged with LeRoy's murder, in addition to four others.

More updates to come, but I have a feeling justice will finally be served for those families.


Samuel James Cooper, 30, of 2300 Creech Road was arrested after a Garner bank robbery and car chase in Garner. He was then connected to and charged with five murders dating back to May 2006. Here are the warrants.

Those murders, however, are far from when his criminal record started. In 1994, he was 17 when he was sentenced to 20 years in jail for armed robbery. Five years later, while in prison at the Wake Correctional Center, he and two other inmates overpowered a guard and escaped.

While on the run, they carjacked a Buick but ran out of gas on I-40. A sheriff's deputy gave them a ride to a convenience store, not realizing they were escaped inmates. When they asked for rides to Wilmington at a Benson apartment complex, they were arrested.

And again in 1999, after he was sentenced to 26-32 months in prison for the escape, he punched a deputy in the jaw and knocked her to the ground while she was escorting him from a courtroom. He was attempting to pull her service weapon from her holster when others came to her aid.

Chasity Jernigan, LeRoy's sister, has said she is glad that he is off the streets and that LeRoy has some closure. In addition to LeRoy's murder, Cooper has been charged with the murders of the following (for a map, go here:

Tariq Hussain, 52,

Hussain was found dead shortly after 10 a.m. on October 14. He was shot to death behind the counter of his convenience store, Bobby's Grocery, and was discovered by a customer. He was a father of three and an apparent victim of a robbery.

Rickey High, 48
A homeless man, High was found lying on the sidewalk on October 12 about a block from where he lived. He had worked for stores near the St. Augustine's College.

Timothy David Barnwell, 34

Barnwell was shot and killed on April 27 outside his apartment during an apparent robbery at Windsor Falls Apartments. His ankles and wrists were bound, and he tried to escape by jumping over the balcony of his second-floor apartment, but was shot several times when he landed.

Osama "Samuel" Haj-Hussein, 43
Haj-Hussein was shot and killed on May 12, 2006. He was a clerk at the In & Out Mart on Creech Road, and a native of Jordan.

LeRoy Jernigan photo courtesy of Chasity Jernigan; photos of four victims found on Wral.com

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Friday, November 23

Missing From the Queen City

I'm in Charlotte for the Holiday break and felt like writing, so thought I'd tell Kyle Fleischmann's story.

At 2:30 a.m. on Friday, November 9, security cameras show Kyle Fleischmann leaving Buckhead Saloon in uptown Charlotte at about 2:20 a.m. He has not been seen since.

His sister received a call from his cell at 2:19 a.m., one minute before leaving the bar, then he called two friends: one, friend, Daniel Scagnelli, at 3:28 a.m. and the other, his roommate Bruce, at 3:29 a.m. Kyle didn't leave any messages and his phone was dead by morning. But reports have said the pings from his last cell phone calls hit a tower at 10th St. and Seigle Ave. He did not leave any messages.

His vehicle was not returned, and he did not show up to work later Friday. His debit card and coat were left at the bar, and those involved are assuming he does not have cash.

At 10 p.m. on Nov. 9, a missing person's report was filed. There is a $25,000 reward for information about where Kyle is or about what happened the night he disappeared.

Since his disappearance, friends and family have organized search parties and created a non-profit organization, the Kyle Fleischmann Foundation. They've done a great job of getting the word out, with his story being told as far away as Los Angeles and hitting national news.

This is Kyle's MySpace - from his "About Me" section ("Just like Shakira, my hips don't lie.") and pictures, he seems like the kind of person who was out to live life just to live it. It's also been revealed that his mother, whom he called every day, was to have breast cancer surgery last week, and it isn't like him not to be there.

This is quickly becoming a confusing, but not helpless, case. While the last pings on Kyle's cell were from the tower at 10th and Seigle, I don't know how far away the tower reaches - as in, what is the radius of the tower, how far away do you have to be to ping it? This could be important - was he calling from outside of the bar, or from outside of a hotel, like some have rumored his intentions were?

A thread on CourtTV.com has said Kyle may have been heading to a party at a Holiday Inn, or may have realized he left his belongings in the bar after it had closed, or some other similar situation. In using Google Maps, I found there is a Holiday Inn within one block of the Buckhead Saloon. I hope this has been checked out.

There haven't been any leads yet. I may run downtown tomorrow and take some pics, which I'll post if I do. Below is some information about Kyle:

Height: 6' even
Weight: about 180 pounds
Eye Color: green eyes
Hair: brown

He was last seen wearing a black t-shirt, jeans, and black dress shoes. His hair was gelled and probably looked a little darker than his natural color.

If you have any information about Kyle, call Crimestoppers - 704.334.1600.

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Monday, November 19

Judith Maxwell: Lexington's Fourth Murder of 2007

On Saturday night, police were called to Warf Road in Lexington, NC. A man named Richard had called police around 7:25 p.m. about a stabbing. His wife, 47-year-old Judith Maxwell, was found dead on the bathroom floor of her home, an apparent stabbing victim.

After the sheriff's office conducted interviews, 17-year-old Andrea Christine Maxwell, Judith's daughter, along with her boyfriend, 21-year-old Joe Lee Coleman Jr., were each charged with one count of felony murder.

"We (investigators) feel like it was a spur-of-the-moment ... very much like we don't know what we're doing kind of a thing, and we're sort of making this up as we go," said Grice at a press conference on Sunday afternoon.

"We felt like it was a result of a domestic issue," he said. "There's not a lot of indication of a struggle. They both participated in the act."

Andrea was an honor-roll senior at Central Davidson High School, and had been accepted into college. She seemed, by several accounts, to be a normal teenager. But why was she dating a 21-year-old, a man she ran off with several weeks ago, prompting her parents to file a missing persons report.

And even more revealing, why does her MySpace refer to blood, gore and death? Steve Huff at "The True Crime Weblog" has more information.

According to the North Carolina Criminal Court Calendars, both Andrea and Coleman have court dates on the morning of December 1. I'll keep updating as needed.

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