Convicted killer charged in 1999 Clayton homicide
Posted January 22, 2016
Clayton, N.C. — A Smithfield man who has already served time for murder has been charged in a 17-year-old homicide in Clayton, authorities said Friday.
Jonathan Lynn Jenkins, 43, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Elton Demond Whitfield and is being held without bond in the Johnston County jail.
Whitfield's body was found in a field near Lake Myra Road in Wake County in April 1999, a month after he went missing from his Clayton home. At the time, investigators said they believed he might have been strangled.
Whitfield and Jenkins knew each other, authorities said.
The case went cold for years, but new developments last summer led the Clayton Police Department to reopen the case.
On Tuesday, Johnston County deputies arrested Jenkins in connection with a prostitution and human trafficking ring, and Clayton investigators talked to him about Whitfield's death and then charged him, authorities said.
Jenkins pleaded guilty in April 2006 to second-degree murder in the 1998 shooting death of Joseph Richard Vestal Jr. in the Clayton Estates Mobile Home Park. He served an eight-year sentence and was released in January 2014.
Whitfield's family expressed relief when they learned of the arrest, having feared his death would never be solved, authorities said.