Crime & Courts

New details emerge in Stallings dismemberment case

Before he was killed and dismembered in July, a Monroe man was robbed of $1,381 cash and beaten with an aluminum baseball bat, court records show.

Authorities arrested Keith Edward McCarthy, 41, of Monroe, on July 30. He was charged with first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon and concealing the death of Jaime Hernandez, 41.

“It’s an unusual event. You don’t see that many cases of dismemberment,” Tony Underwood, special agent in charge of the State Bureau of Investigation’s district office in Harrisburg, said Wednesday.

The SBI and Stallings police are handling the case, with the assistance of Monroe police and the Union County Sheriff’s Office. Interviews and a review of court and police records provided additional information.

Hernandez was last seen alive by his estranged wife at 8 a.m. July 6. The couple had been married for eight years but lived in different homes about 10 miles apart. Hernandez’ wife declined to comment.

Hernandez was an unemployed construction worker, and McCarthy worked as a roofer for an Indian Trail contractor.

The two men were acquaintances, Underwood said. But he and Monroe spokesman Pete Hovanec said it is unclear the extent of their ties.

Authorities believe Hernandez was killed at McCarthy’s home, Underwood said. McCarthy lives in the 400 block of Tucker Street in Monroe, about four miles from where Hernandez lived.

Robbery played a role in the case, Underwood said, but investigators are still working to determine what led up to the slaying.

Hernandez apparently was killed between July 6, the last time his wife saw him, and July 8, court records show.

A 50-year-old Monroe man, whom Underwood said was a hunter, came across human remains in a wooded area off of the 13000 block of U.S. 74 in Stallings on July 24. The remains were in a 50-gallon rugged tote storage container and in large garbage bags, records show.

It’s not known how long the remains were in the woods.

On the night of July 28, Hernandez’s wife spoke with police after his 1997 Ford truck was found in front of a Monroe business, Hovanec said. “She didn’t know where he was,” Hovanec said, and thought it strange she was unable to reach him.

She told police she had not seen Hernandez in three weeks, and he was entered into a national database as a missing person, records show.

Two days later, on July 30, authorities searched McCarthy’s home and arrested him. He remains in Union County Jail without bail.

McCarthy’s court-appointed attorney, Jeremy Smith of Indian Trail, declined to comment.

This is the first murder investigation in Stallings since 2009, Stallings Police Chief Minor Plyer Jr. said. The body of a former minor league hockey player, Yuriy Kharitonov of Kazakhstan, was found in a wooded area. No one was convicted in that case.

Observer researcher Maria David contributed.

Adam Bell: 704-358-5696, @abell