Hey, y’all, and welcome to Southern Macabre! I’m your host, Aeryn, and I’m so excited to have you join me for True Crime Friday! Today we’re going to return to Robeson County, North Carolina because there is so much going on there that I just wasn’t ready to pack up and leave. Today I’m going to tell you about cold cases and true crime.
I’m going to warn you, today’s episode may be a bit graphic for some listeners, but I feel the details are important. Also, here in the south, it’s a sign of respect to put a Mr. or Mrs. in front of a person’s first name. That’s important because of the people I’m talking about in this episode and most of my listeners ain’t from around here.
Also, I’m going to stay out of Robeson County for a while after today. I’ve become pretty obsessed with what’s going on there and I could talk about it every week. However, this is Southern Macabre not Robeson County Macabre. Or more appropriately, What the Heck is Going on in Robeson County?. I don’t know what case or cases I’m going to do next, but it probably won’t be in North Carolina either.
After speaking to a Lumberton local, I learned of two other women who were found naked and murdered in East Lumberton, but in 2003 instead of 2017.
Lisa Hardin was thirty-six years old when she initially went missing. Her mother said that she knew something was wrong when Lisa didn’t come home. Her body was found in the woods on the east side of Lumberton, around the same area as Kristin, Rhonda, and Megan. Her orange Harley Davidson t-shirt was pulled up around her neck and her underwear was twisted around her ankle. She had been strangled.
Four months earlier, police found twenty-three-year-old Michelle Ann Driggers’s naked, decomposed body in a cemetery in east Lumberton. Less than a mile from where Lisa would later be found.
Also, like Rhonda and Megan, they were both members of the Lumbee tribe. I tried to find where they were murdered, to see if it was that same block, but I couldn’t find an exact location for Lisa or Michelle.
Sadly, none of these cases have been solved yet. I ask that if you are listening today, please pray for the victim’s families. I have spoken to some of them and you can hear the pain in their voices so strongly that you can almost feel it yourself.
I learned of this case last week and it’s a big part of why I wanted to talk about Robeson County, and Lumberton, again this week. Julian Pierce was one of thirteen children in his family and he was born in 1946. He graduated high school at the age of sixteen and went to the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. He had a full scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. So, he was an extremely smart man.
He started his career at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia. He later worked for the Navy shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia as a chemist. There he developed an award-winning chemical process for decontamination of nuclear reactors. So, Mr. Julian wasn’t just smart – he was a genius!
After working as a chemist for several years, he attended the law school at North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham, North Carolina. After graduating in 1976, he accepted a position with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. While working there, Mr. Julian attended Georgetown School of Law to earn his Master of Laws in Taxation.
In 1978, he returned to North Carolina to become the first director of the Lumbee River Legal Services, a poverty law office in Pembroke. He helped merge the tri-school board into one school board so every school got equal funding. He was also part of the group who attempted to get the Lumbee tribe federally recognized, but failed.
You see, Mr. Julian was Native American, a member of the Lumbee tribe, and he was tired of what was happening to them and others in Robeson County. He was active in the Civil Rights movement in Robeson County and he was working for real change.
In 1988, the North Carolina General Assembly created a new Superior Court Judgeship in Robeson County. Mr. Julian resigned from his position with Lumbee River Legal Services and ran against Joe Freeman Britt, the county’s district attorney. He announced his campaign on January 8, 1988, not knowing he only had a couple of months to live. Many felt the chances of him winning were impossible.
Then, Eddie Hatcher, a 30-year-old journalist stormed the offices of The Robesonian and took 17 hostages – with the assistance of an associate and two sawed-off shotguns. He wanted the governor to look into the corruption in local law enforcement, which the governor promised to do. Keep in mind, Operation Tarnished Badge occurred about twenty years later.
Like Pierce, Hatcher had been investigating the corruption and feared for his life because of what he knew. He had supposedly obtained maps from a former police informant detailing the players in the cocaine trade, including then sheriff, Hubert Stone. Hatcher shared his findings with Mr. Julian for months.
To Mr. Julian’s surprise, the hostage situation put his name in the lead for the Superior Court Judge position, something that made a lot of the higher ups angry. Those who wanted unity and an end of de facto segregation came out in support of him and that’s when the three school boards merged – in 1988!
Anyway, it was around this time that he shared his concerns with his seventeen-year-old twins, Julia and Julian Junior. He told them at that time he didn’t believe his life was in danger, it was more likely that someone would plant drugs on him in order to discredit him.
On the night of March 24, 1988, Mr. Julian’s volunteers met to discuss the end of his campaign and what they could do to make sure he won. His cousin and trusted campaign advisor, Curt Pierce, said, “We thought we were in a very comfortable position. It was a matter of just holding our ground. That’s what we were talking about — that and the security thing.”
The “security thing” was an ominous feeling that Mr. Julian’s life was in danger. Mr. Curt and others tried to convince him to get someone to move in with him, his ex-wife and children lived two hundred miles away, or begin carrying a gun. He refused both. He knew he was risking his life, but he wouldn’t, or couldn’t, stop.
That night, across town, while he was at a political rally, Sheriff Stone took him aside. In 1989 Sheriff Stone claimed he took Mr. Julien aside and was told, “I know you and Joe [Freeman Britt] are working on me.” And the sheriff replied, “I’m not going to hurt you.”
On March 26, 1988 around 7AM, Charles Locklear and his brother, Tony, ran up the back stoop of Mr. Julian’s home. They had come to distribute “Julian Pierce for Superior Court Judge” lawn signs. They found broken glass and blood smudges on the back door. At first, they just thought he had forgotten his keys.
When they opened the door, they found Mr. Julian lying in a pool of blood. He had been shot in the abdomen, chest, and execution-style through the head. A trail of smallish bloody footprints went through the kitchen, out the back door, and into the carport.
Standing on Mr. Julian’s front lawn that day, shaking according to bystanders, Sheriff Stone said, “We have very little on what we can go on. We’re begging you to come forward.”
When asked if the killing was political, he responded, “It looks like he was assassinated. I never thought anything like this would ever come to Robeson County, where somebody would kill somebody in their own home over an election.”
Less than three days later, Sheriff Stone stood before the press and said Julian Pierce had been murdered over a domestic dispute. His girlfriend, Ruth Locklear, had told 24-year-old Johnny Goins to stay away from her daughter, who was Goins’s girlfriend. Two warrants were issued for Johnny the previous week for trespassing on the property. The Sheriff claimed that Johnny and his neighbor, 24-year-old Sandy Chavis, had murdered Mr. Julian.
They arrested Sandy, but found Johnny dead in a closet at his father’s house from a self-inflicted bullet wound.
“I can assure the world that there was no political involvement,” Stone said — the exact opposite of what he had said the day Pierce’s body was found. “The people of Robeson County will understand that it’s just another murder.”
However, many didn’t and those still living will tell you that Johnny Goins and Sandy Chavis are innocent.
There are inconsistencies, like Johnny and Sandy’s feet are larger than the prints left in Mr. Julian’s home. Also, Johnny shot himself with a break action shotgun, but the barrel is open in the crime scene photos. You can’t hit the lever and pull down the barrel if you’re dead.
This case is still unsolved and it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to open it, even though there are still a lot of people demanding justice. I highly recommend if you want more information, that you read, “I’ve Spent Thirty Years Trying to Solve One Horrific Murder Case”. It will be linked below the transcript. I’m just finishing this up on January 20th because I couldn’t stop going down this rabbit hole. It’s a good one, but it’s deep.
Michael Jordan is still considered the best basketball player of all time by many, even though he’s been retired for a while. I remember being a huge fan when I was a kid and I didn’t even watch or like sports. Especially when he did Space Jam. I liked him even more once I found out he was from North Carolina and played for the University of North Carolina. I’ve loved the Tar Heels and Panthers for as long as I can remember.
Getting on with today’s second true crime story, James Raymond Jordan, Sr., father of the infamous Michael Jordan, was murdered in Lumberton on July 23, 1993. Mr. James had played golf in Wilmington that day and was driving back to his home in Charlotte. On the way, he stopped to take a nap in his red Lexus SC400, a gift from Mr. Michael, at the Lumberton rest area alongside US Highway 74. Some articles say it was the side of the road while others say it was the rest stop off I-95.
While he slept, Daniel Andre Green and Larry Martin Demery spotted the car and pulled in. Green shot Mr. James while he slept then the two of them stole his car. Mr. James’s body was found in Gum Swamp down in McColl, South Carolina on August 3rd. The car had been found sooner, stripped and vandalized, in North Carolina.
Unfortunately, the coroner’s office didn’t have any cold place to store a body, so Mr. James’s jaws and hands were removed immediately so he could be identified later. His body was cremated on August 7th. He was positively identified using dental records on August 13th and the rest of his remains were cremated at his family’s request.
After going through Mr. James’s belongings, Green and Demery realized that he was Michael Jordan’s father. That didn’t stop them from grabbing two NBA championship rings Mr. Michael had given him and using his cellphone, though. The two were immediately arrested, but Demery said they intended to just tie him up. He didn’t know why Green pulled the trigger.
The murder, of course, deeply affected Mr. Michael and he retired from the Chicago Bulls to play baseball. A dream of his late father’s. He started out in the Minor Leagues, playing for the Birmingham Barons in Birmingham, Alabama. Then he went on to play one season for the White Sox. He left when the baseball strike hadn’t ended before the season began and was playing for the Chicago Bulls again roughly two weeks later.
Daniel Andre Green has been saying that the only involvement he had was helping put Mr. James in the swamp. He had an alibi at the time of the murder, but was still convicted and has been in jail ever since. There’s a docuseries on IMDB called Moment of Truth which is supposed to show different aspects of the murder.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t watched it yet – I first heard of it while researching this podcast. I may do a review episode once I have watched it if y’all want. Let me know in the comments.
Since today’s episode was so heavy, I want to share a somewhat amusing case to lighten things up.
Scottie Deese was a deputy sheriff in Robeson County and he is an Army veteran. On August 31, 2021, Mr. Scottie and his partner were stopped to assist a North Carolina highway patrolman when a vehicle going about 90 mph struck his patrol car.
Mr. Scottie suffered a concussion, a busted right shoulder, an injured neck and back, and an injured left knee. He told a reporter that his doctor had said his right shoulder, “looked as if he was shot from behind with a shotgun.” Even with his injuries, he crawled out of the patrol car and attempted to help the driver who hit him and his partner.
After four months, the sheriff, who lives seven houses down from him, has never visited him. Mr. Scottie helped him build rental properties, often for free, and believed they were friends.
So, what does Sheriff Burnis Wilkins do? What any good employer would do. He fired him. Wait. What? That’s right, while Mr. Scottie was recovering from extensive injuries incurred on the job and receiving workman’s compensation, Sheriff Wilkins fired him. Sound illegal? That’s because it is.
Sheriff Wilkins is accused of firing Scottie because he feared the man would run against him for sheriff this year, but he’s vehemently denying it. Scottie said that he would never run against a friend and had planned to run after Sheriff Wilkins retired. That’s all changed and he’s going to run against him this year.
I hope he wins.
I could talk about so many more cases in Robeson County, but I’m going to stop here this week. I may do another episode in the distant future. I pray it’s a special CASE SOLVED episode so we can all celebrate the family’s receiving answers and justice.
Come back for Missing Persons Monday where I’ll tell you about people who disappeared without a trace. If there is someone you want me to talk about you can email me at email@example.com.
Also, be sure to follow, like, and leave a review on Apple podcasts. I appreciate each and every one of you! Also, shout out to Indiana because I have more listeners there than any other state! Y’all are awesome and I love you – even if Clifty Falls did scare the crud out of me and my family a few years back.
Stay safe, God bless y’all, and have a fantastic weekend!
Facebook Live | Facebook : The NC Beat interviewing Scottie Deese