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Officials confirm mayor, wife killed; two charged

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Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson, left, speaks about the double homicide in Leggett which the sheriff's department is investigating during a press conference Friday at the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office in Tarboro.

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Rocky Mount Telegram

Saturday, September 8, 2018

TARBORO — A second Tarboro man has been charged with homicide in the slayings of the mayor of Leggett and his wife.

Mitchell Brinson, 18, of Pinehurst Homes in Tarboro, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the double homicide of Mayor Gary Skelton and his wife, Jackie Dawn Skelton, according to a statement released late Friday by the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office.

“After more follow-up investigation, detectives have charged an additional person of interest in this case,” Lt. E.W. Muse said in the statement.

The state Department of Correction has no previous convictions listed for Brinson.

However, state records reveal that the other suspect in the case, Keith Earl Williams, 25, of Daniel Street in Tarboro, was just released from prison. Williams, who has also been charged with first-degree murder for the Leggett homicides, was released on Aug. 28 after serving more than three years for possession of a firearm by a felon and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

Williams is on parole for these offenses. He has previous convictions for larceny and assault on a child. All of his previous convictions have been in Edgecombe County.

The Skeltons were found dead from gunshot wounds Thursday at their property at 7218 N.C. 33 N.W. in Leggett, Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson said Friday at a news conference. Atkinson did not clarify whether the victims were found inside or outside the home. The home is located about a third of a mile south of North Edgecombe High School.

The attention of the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office was originally drawn to the home because of a report of a missing person that led to a welfare check.

“We were able to solve this double homicide in less than eight hours due to the partnership we have with area law enforcement agencies,” Atkinson said. “I want to stress the importance of relationships with citizens and partnerships with area law enforcement agencies.”

At the news conference, Atkinson publicly thanked Tarboro Chief Jesse Webb and his officers, Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone and his deputies, Rocky Mount Police Chief Willie Williams and his officers, the State Highway Patrol, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the Edgecombe County District Attorney’s Office.

Atkinson also expressed his concern about the fact that the victims had been identified almost universally in media coverage before the official release of their identities.

“I want to apologize to the family of the victims. Even though it was not the Edgecombe County Sheriff’’s Office that released the names, I sincerely apologize. We stand on our core values of respect, integrity and professionalism,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson said the case is still under investigation.

“We will release more information as we are able to,” Atkinson said. “I ask that you pray for healing and comfort for the family of Mr. and Mrs. Skelton.”

Leggett is located north of Tarboro at the intersection of N.C. 93 and N.C. 33. It had a population of about 60 in the 2010 census.

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