Last year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police investigated 42 homicides and closed all but nine cases. The 79 percent clearance rate outpaces the national average. Still, some remain mysteries, including ones that have puzzled investigators for years.
Last week, police announced they had solved a 36-year-old case in which five people were killed, closing one of their oldest unsolved cases.
It was the worst mass murder in the city’s history, made national headlines and prompted police to take a closer look at motorcycle gangs. Police revealed that it was more of a grudge killing than violence by rival gangs.
But the case’s sudden re-emergence underlies a sobering fact. For every cold case that gets solved, dozens remain open. CMPD’s cold case unit has reviewed approximately 500 cases since it was founded in 2003.
Here are three cases that continue to elude investigators:
▪ In March 2008, three men and a woman were found shot to death at the Tree Top apartments near Interstate 77 and Nations Ford Road. There was evidence of drug activity at the house, and a month before the massacre, during a search, police had recovered a stolen semi-automatic rifle. The man charged with possessing it would later be one of the victims.
Neighbors said they noticed men and women shuttling into and out of the apartment at night, especially on weekends.
Police have made no arrests and named no suspects or motive.
Killed were Timothy Stone, 33; William Beaumonde Royster, 46; Andrew Babyak, 43; and Cherilyn Jane Crawford, 31.
▪ Also unsolved is the killing of 82-year-old Ina Feldman in February 2014.
Her body was found by her son inside her townhouse on Torrey Pines Court, a south Charlotte community of mostly older people with little crime. She had been beaten and strangled. When her son Irwin found her body, she was still wearing earrings, a necklace and her nightgown. Police believe she could have been killed as many as 36 hours beforehand.
Investigators haven’t said whether she was a victim of a robbery, or if there were signs of forced entry into her house.
“Who murders an 82-year-old woman in her house?” Homicide Capt. Cecil Brisbon asked.
▪ And last week homicide detectives asked the public to help them identify a white or Hispanic female found dead at 10145 Statesville Avenue in 2011.
She was 20 to 40 years old with straight dark hair. She was wearing jeans, canvas boat shoes and a white t-shirt with “Virginia Beach Virginia” and a pink flower on the front.
Police encourage anyone with information on any of these open cases to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600. Tipsters are eligible for a reward for information that leads to an arrest.