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UNIDENTIFIED

Skeleton with shotgun wounds all but forgotten

Posted on June 13, 2021

Local news
The Wilson County Sheriff's Office maintains a substation in Lucama, where a man's skeleton was found in 1974. The sheriff's office said the Lucama Police Department, which has since been disbanded, investigated the homicide. The victim's identity remains unknown.

Lindell J. Kay | Enterprise

The Wilson County Sheriff's Office maintains a substation in Lucama, where a man's skeleton was found in 1974. The sheriff's office said the Lucama Police Department, which has since been disbanded, investigated the homicide. The victim's identity remains unknown.

This clipping of a 1974 news brief on an unidentified man found shotgunned to death in a Lucama barn is one of only two articles ever published about the case.

Screen capture

This clipping of a 1974 news brief on an unidentified man found shotgunned to death in a Lucama barn is one of only two articles ever published about the case.

The Wilson County Sheriff's Office maintains a substation in Lucama, where a man's skeleton was found in 1974. The sheriff's office said the Lucama Police Department, which has since been disbanded, investigated the homicide. The victim's identity remains unknown.

Lindell J. Kay | Enterprise

The Wilson County Sheriff's Office maintains a substation in Lucama, where a man's skeleton was found in 1974. The sheriff's office said the Lucama Police Department, which has since been disbanded, investigated the homicide. The victim's identity remains unknown.

This clipping of a 1974 news brief on an unidentified man found shotgunned to death in a Lucama barn is one of only two articles ever published about the case.

Screen capture

This clipping of a 1974 news brief on an unidentified man found shotgunned to death in a Lucama barn is one of only two articles ever published about the case.

This clipping of a 1974 news brief on an unidentified man found shotgunned to death in a Lucama barn is one of only two articles ever published about the case.
The Wilson County Sheriff's Office maintains a substation in Lucama, where a man's skeleton was found in 1974. The sheriff's office said the Lucama Police Department, which has since been disbanded, investigated the homicide. The victim's identity remains unknown.

Unidentified is a weekly series examining the more than 120 cases of unidentified human remains discovered in North Carolina. Reporter Lindell J. Kay produces each installment for The Enterprise of Spring Hope and other Restoration NewsMedia newspapers.

Click the hyperlinked text below to read previous installments:

 Dozens of bodies found across NC remain mysteries

 'Baby John Nash' killing remains unsolved

 Drowning victim remains unknown

 Man who stepped in front of train still unknown 

 Body dumped on interstate remains mystery 

 Few clues found in skeleton case 

 Tattoo may hold key clue in unsolved homicide 

 Unknown woman stabbed to death 

 Few clues in unknown homeless man's death 

A decade after bones found, woman's identity remains mystery 

lkay@springhopeenterprise.com | 252-265-8117

LUCAMA — A skeleton found buried beneath straw in a barn nearly 50 years ago has received little attention from law enforcement and the media in the decades since its grisly discovery.

A property owner found the skeleton off Route 2 — a road designation that no longer exists — on Feb. 6, 1974, and reported it to the authorities. The 25- to 35-year-old white male victim had two shotgun blast holes in his head.

The case and story of the shotgunned man appears to have fallen through the cracks. A United Press International story on the Jan. 6, 1974, derailing of a freight train in Lucama that “slightly injured a woman,” made it into the late edition of The New York Times that day. However, the discovery of the shotgunned man a month later saw one article published in The Wilson Times along with a two-sentence Associated Press news brief that ran in a handful of North Carolina newspapers. 

No evidence could be found of the story being followed up or appearing anywhere else.

The story may have lingered forever in total obscurity if not for Clyde Gibbs. A medicolegal death investigator, Gibbs has maintained the bone room for the  N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Raleigh for more than two decades. He entered the basic information of the shotgunned man into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System on Jan. 8, 2015. That NamUs listing became the catalyst for this report.

No information is given in NamUs under the case’s law enforcement investigative agency.

The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office isn’t currently investigating the cold case, according to a May 27 email from Wanda Mills Samuel, chief of staff for Sheriff Calvin Woodard.

“We do not have a case file on an unidentified body from 1974,” Samuel wrote. “Lucama had their own police department during this time before the Sheriff’s Office took over the agency in the early 2000s.”

The 1974 Wilson Times article quotes Lt. James Hawley, a detective with the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, who told the newspaper that a skeleton had been found in Lucama with two holes in the skull.

The autopsy report lists the cause of death as a shotgun wound to the head and the manner of death as homicide.

Whether washed ashore, unearthed in shallow graves, stumbled upon in the woods, discovered in abandoned houses, killed on busy roads or located in rivers, ponds and along railroad tracks, more than 120 bodies remain unidentified in North Carolina. This is one of their stories.

The shotgunned man stood 6 feet tall, but his weight couldn’t be estimated. He had brown hair with an unknown eye color.

The skeleton had been in the barn for three to six months, according to the archived news article.

“The lieutenant said no weapon was found in the building nor was there any clothing or any other items on the body,” the article states.

The shotgunned man’s assigned case number in NamUs is 13354. It’s the second-oldest unidentified body case in the state.

Anyone with information in the shotgunned man’s death can call the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner at 919-743-9000.

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