Tip may lead to murder arrest

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 17, 2005

GATESVILLE – Almost four years to the day, Gates County Sheriff Edward E. Webb finally has information leading to a suspect in the 2001 Valentine’s Day murder of one of the county’s most well known citizens, Hollis Frissell Creecy Jr.

Creecy, a substitute schoolteacher at Gates County High School and owner of the former Creecy’s Funeral Home, was shot to death and his body thrown into the Chowan River. There is still some question as to whether it was thrown in on the Hertford or Gates county side of the river.

There are also questions about drugs being involved in the brutal death of the former teacher, who was considered a friend to many people across the county, including Sheriff Webb.

&uot;I want this murder solved,&uot; said Sheriff Webb. &uot;This is a case close to my heart and I want closure on this just as badly as this man’s family does.&uot;

Webb spoke with emotion as he added that the murder victim was his good friend, a neighbor and a hunting buddy.

&uot;This case has yet to be solved because it is so unique and it’s taken on a character of its own,&uot; said Webb. &uot;Every time we think we’re getting a foot forward on it, then we find that we’re right back where we started. This case has to be solved and we’re hoping that some citizen will be able to provide information that will help us make an arrest in this man’s murder.&uot;

Webb got a break in the case he insists is still a hot issue within the sheriff’s office. He said Monday he certainly does not consider it a &uot;cold case,&uot; especially with the newest information that came to him over the weekend.

&uot;WAVY television came Saturday and did a little bit on the investigation and we went down to the Chowan River where Mr. Creecy’s body was found, and a woman called to say she’d seen the program and had information that she could share with me,&uot; said Webb. &uot;That’s the only reason I did the interview. I wanted to stir up interest in the investigation all over again with the hope that someone saw something or knows something about this murder.&uot;

In addition to stirring old memories about the shooting death of Creecy, the sheriff also wanted to remind the public that there is a $5,000 reward just waiting on someone to provide information that will lead to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons who shot Creecy, age 50 at the time of his death, in the head and left him in the river.

This case has proven to be one of the most frustrating in Sheriff Webb’s career in law enforcement.

&uot;It’s such a strange case because there is so much conflicting information in it,&uot; said the Sheriff. &uot;Once you think you are getting somewhere and then you get backed up against a blank wall that leads to nothing again. We finally do have suspects, however, thanks to this woman’s calls, and believe me when I say they are being scrutinized very closely. I just want to add that law enforcement has done all they can do and now we must ask for the help of the people of Gates County. You must realize that this killer is still out there and he needs to be arrested, charged and convicted before he kills again.&uot;

The woman who called the sheriff, like every caller with information about wanted people, remains anonymous and her identity will be protected by law enforcement including the State Bureau of Investigation and the FBI, who are also working the case with Sheriff Webb.

&uot;This woman called me to advise that she’d seen a man in the area at the time of Mr. Creecy’s homicide,&uot; said the Sheriff. &uot;She said this man had previously been charged with another murder and he is definitely being investigated as I speak. With a little help like this, we may be able to solve this horrible killing and bring this man in before something else happens.&uot;

The victim of the slaying, Creecy, is the son of former Gates County Commissioner Hollis F. Creecy Sr., who served the county from 1985 to 2001, when he was defeated in his final bid for election to the Board of Commissioners.

He also ran the family’s funeral home, having taken over for his father after he retired. The business served the community for many years before the younger Creecy closed it.

Webb said the victim, known as &uot;Butch&uot; to all who knew him, was a good father, a devoted husband and a well-liked substitute schoolteacher.

He also served frequently as a coach for little league in the community.

Creecy lived in Gatesville with his family. In February of 2001, his wife reported to authorities that he went to shop for a Valentine card and candy and after bringing the items to her, he left the house again, saying he had an errand to run.

The next time Creecy was seen was when his body was pulled from the Chowan River on April 25, 2001. The discovery was made near the NC Department of Wildlife’s boat ramp at the end of New Road, south of Gatesville.

After his body was pulled from the river, Creecy’s remains were transported to the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s office. An examination determined that he died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head.

The medical examiner explained that because the weather was cold, the body had sunk to the bottom of the river causing it to remain undiscovered for more than two months.

Sheriff Webb said NC Governor Mike Easley has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Creecy’s killer(s).

If anyone has any information, they should call the Gates County’s Sheriff’s Office at 357-0210, or call the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-334-3000.