Bonds reduced for murder suspects

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 3, 2004

HILLSBOROUGH – The probable cause hearing for an Orange County teenager accused in the May 1 stabbing death of a Roanoke-Chowan area law enforcement officer has been delayed.

Devin Scott Rigsbee, 19, of Mebane is free on bond as he awaits his probable cause hearing, rescheduled for June 25. At the time of his arrest, Rigsbee was held without bond on a first-degree murder charge. He has since been released a $100,000 bond.

Rigsbee and three others were arrested and charged in the murder of Thomas Carrell Lewis, 24, of Windsor. Lewis, an agent with the Roanoke-Chowan Narcotics Task Force, was off-duty and spending time with some friends in the Chapel Hill area on the weekend of May 1 when the incident occurred.

Apparently, words were exchanged between occupants of a vehicle in which Lewis was a passenger and those riding with Rigsbee. Both vehicles exited off Interstate 40 at the NC 86 ramp in Orange County. Shortly thereafter, a fistfight began during which time Rigsbee allegedly began stabbing Lewis.

According to the autopsy report, Lewis was stabbed 34 times with a pocketknife containing a two-to-three-inch blade. One of the wounds was delivered to the middle of the chest area, one other was discovered on a wrist (causing an artery to be severed) and seven stab wounds were on the left side of the body. In addition, Lewis was stabbed 25 times in the back.

Lewis died later on the morning of May 1 at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill.

Orange County District Attorney Carl Fox charged Rigsbee with first-degree murder. Also charged in the case was Phillip Jason Rigsbee, 25, of Mebane (the brother of D. Rigsbee) along with Eric Heith Isley, 21, and Joshua Dean Abrams, 23, both of Efland. They stand charged with accessory after the fact of first-degree murder as they aided the suspected murderer in leaving the crime scene and later helped him burn his bloodstained clothing. The trio were originally held under a $100,000 bond each, but have since had that figure reduced to $30,000. They are now free on bond awaiting their probable cause hearings.

Orange County law enforcement officials were led to that foursome after apparently discovering Abrams’ wallet at the crime scene.

The three other occupants, two males and a female driver, of the vehicle in which Lewis was riding were not seriously injured in the altercation.

Lewis had been employed since November of last year with the Narcotics Task Force. Prior to that stage of his young career, he worked with the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office and the Windsor Police Department.