Anson County authorities say a man whose body was found outside a car along the side of a road Wednesday night had been killed.
And they said they believe the man, who was headed from the North Carolina coast to eastern Tennessee, had picked up a passenger along the way.
The sheriff’s office says deputies were called Wednesday night to investigate a vehicle in the ditch along N.C. 742, about five miles north of Wadesboro.
On Thursday afternoon, authorities identified the victim as Keith Jerome Whisnant, 42, of Ocean Isle Beach. Sheriff Tommy Allen said the man was headed to Johnson City, Tenn.
Investigators believe Whisnant picked up a rider between a Burger King restaurant in Wadesboro and where N.C. 742 branches off from N.C. 52 North. Video cameras show Whisnant at the Burger King by himself around 8 p.m.
Whisnant was found outside the vehicle with a fatal gunshot wound to the chest. Authorities believe the killing occurred around 8:30 p.m.
“One passing motorist told investigators he saw what appeared to be two people struggling in the front seat of the vehicle as it sat in the ditch,” Allen said.
Deputies did not find anyone else near the vehicle when they arrived, and Allen said investigators are looking into the possibility that the other person was picked up by a passing vehicle.
Whisnant was driving a 2000 silver Ford Focus with OIB on the front tag.
The sheriff’s office notified residents in the area to call 911 if they saw any suspicious persons. They believe a number of cars passed the victim’s vehicle while it was in the ditch.
Authorities said they believe the driver of a white mid-size car stopped at the murder scene believing it was a traffic accident and may have talked with the suspect. Deputies want to talk to this person as a possible witness.
N.C. 742 was closed until daybreak Thursday as the State Bureau of Investigation and the sheriff’s office investigated.
Authorities also asked that anyone with information in the case contact the sheriff’s office at 704-694-4188.
Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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