Do the right thing and end your misery

Published 1:29 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Shawn Alston (10-08-2012), Ruby Baker (3-02-2014), Daniel Moses (6-16-2011), Michael Lassiter and his father, James Beale (9-01-2016), Bryant O’Neil Jacobs (4-30-2016), Keon Tyvelle Harrell (9-05-2016), Robert Moore (1996), and Phyllis Powell (1963).

Those are local names you’ve seen in the news over the course of many years. They are victims of murder – at least in the cases of Baker, Lassiter, Beale, Jacobs, and Harrell. Meanwhile, Alston, Moses, Moore and Powell have been missing since the dates listed with their names. No one has heard from or seen them since that time.

Then there is the most bizarre unsolved murder case in Roanoke-Chowan area history. On the night of June 6, 1993, a cold-blooded killer lay in wait inside the Belo Supermarket in Windsor. He emerged from his hiding spot just after closing time where, using duct tape to bind six individuals, he stacked them two-by-two in three piles and fired multiple rounds from a weapon. When the suspect ran out of bullets, a knife was used to finish the grisly crime.

Three of the six victims were store employees; the others were members of a cleaning crew who had just arrived to perform their nightly tasks. Three died that horrific Sunday night: store manager Bud Cecil, cashier Joyce Reason, and cleaning crew member Johnnie Rankins.

In all these local cases, a suspect (or suspects) without any regard for human life ruthlessly attacked innocent victims and claimed not only their lives, but has caused grief and agony among the family members of the murdered and missing.

While it’s not known if Alston, Moses, Moore and Powell met the same fate following their respective disappearance, the hard, cold facts of not hearing anything from that foursome since they vanished would seem to indicate the worst possible fate.

What motivates an individual to commit such acts of deadly force?

In the case of Ruby Baker, she was an 85-year-old widow….a caring, loving woman who would have done anything within her power to reach out and help someone in their time of need.

Phyllis Powell, age 5, went outside to play on Jan. 11, 1963 along the street in which she lived. Despite a massive search on the ground and in the air involving over 200 individuals, there were no clues discovered on the little girl’s whereabouts, other than a set of small footprints found in an area bordered by a thick woods about one mile from where she went missing.

Lassiter and Beale were found shot to death inside their home at Pinetops Circle near Murfreesboro.

Jacobs died one week after he was found shot outside a residence on McGlohon Street in Ahoskie.

Harrell died in what was described as a “hail of gunfire” that erupted in the parking lot of the Ahoskie McDonalds in the early morning hours. What makes this case so unique is there were reports of “a crowd of folks” at that place and time, meaning multiple witnesses should have heard or saw something that could help solve this case. Unfortunately, no one has uttered a word to help local police.

The same can be said in the cases of Mrs. Baker, Mr. Lassiter, Mr. Beale, and Mr. Jacobs, as well as the fatal victims and remaining survivors of the Belo murders.

And, to date, no one has come forward with information to solve the cases of the foursome of local individuals listed as missing.

It’s hard, extremely hard, to imagine a person, excluding the respective killers/kidnappers themselves, would purposefully keep hidden information that could break any or all of these unsolved cases wide open. Those harboring such details must be living a life of pure misery.

The families of these murder victims and those that are missing deserve closure. For those with crime-solving information, how would you feel if no one stepped forward with clues to help solve such brutal acts if they involved your family member?

All that can be asked at this point of those with such information is to set aside any fears you have and step forward to speak. Your information, no matter if you think it may be of little importance, could be the final piece of the puzzle that police are searching for.

In all cases, the names of those providing clues are kept confidential by police.


Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.  

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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