Five Grand

Published 7:55 am Monday, November 10, 2014

RALEIGH – As the investigation continues into the disappearance of a Northampton County man two years ago, the State of North Carolina is providing a cash incentive to help solve the case.

On Tuesday, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory announced that the state is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Shawn Cornelius Alston of Garysburg.

The Northampton County Sheriff’s Office has good reason to believe that Alston is deceased. They are basing that on the information gathered thus far in this case, to include the fact that Alston’s bank account has not been accessed since the day of his disappearance.

Alston, age 39 at the time, was last seen leaving a friend’s house in the Garysburg area on the night of Oct. 18, 2012. He was believed to have been walking a familiar path towards the home he shared with his mother, two brothers and a handicapped sister.

Alston’s mother, Lola Robinson, reported her son missing the next day, but to date his whereabouts remains a mystery.

“My son left home that night going out to socialize with some friends,” Robinson said. “He left his wallet here at home, his keys and his van. He was planning on returning, but never made it home. I feel sure he was walking home that night on a path he was very familiar with. He’s walked that path many times in the past. It takes about five minutes to walk from his friend’s home back home.

“There were five people involved with my son that night,” she added. “A neighbor said they saw another van parked in my driveway about 11:30 that night. I think someone intercepted my son before he got home; one of the five men he was with knows what happened. I just wish they would come forward with the truth.”

Now there is a cash reward to perhaps help entice someone to come forward with information that could solve this two-year-old case.

“I’m very grateful to the Governor for putting up this reward money,” Alston said. “My only regret is that it should have been done earlier.”

Even though her son was no stranger to drinking beer and having fun, Robinson said he would not have done “anything stupid” on the night he went missing due to what was in store for him the next day.

“He had been hired to work at the Perdue plant in Petersburg (Virginia),” she said. “Shawn was ready to go that next day (Oct. 19) to take his drug test. He was supposed to start work the following Monday.”

Robinson said the Northampton Sheriff’s Office did conduct a ground search of the area; the NC Highway Patrol helicopter performed an aerial search. There was a tip that Alston may have drowned in a pond. Gaston Fire and Rescue personnel drug the pond, turning up nothing.

Over the past two years, family and friends of Alston have conducted their own searches as well as host events in an effort to keep Shawn’s name in the news.

One such event occurred last month on the two-year anniversary of Alston’s disappearance. A march was held, starting on the path (Berry Scott Trail, located off Warner Bridge Road) where Alston vanished. The group then made their way north to Hill’s Farm, just across the state line.

Meanwhile, Robinson said she has come to grips that her son is no longer alive.

“I know he’s gone, but they didn’t have to take him that way,” Robinson said last month on the eve of the march, referencing those responsible for her son’s death. “All I want now is to find Shawn and put him where he needs to be; give him a proper resting place.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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