Goldsboro teen's murder still unsolved 20 years later
Posted August 21, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Two decades after a Goldsboro teenager's body was found covered with a piece of cardboard in a ditch in Raleigh, police have yet to make any arrests in the case, which is one of the city's oldest open murder investigations.
But Jerry Faulk, the homicide detective assigned to the 1994 stabbing death of 17-year-old Beth-Ellen Vinson, said Thursday at a news conference marking the anniversary of her death that he still believes it can be solved and that someone somewhere knows something that can lead to a break in the case.
His message to the killer or killers: "If you have been living with this for 20 years, if you have been carrying around a burden for 20 years, it may be weighing on you, and it may be time for you to remove that weight."
Vinson left her apartment near North Carolina State University around 2:30 a.m. the morning of Aug. 16, 1994, and three hours later, police found her white 1990 Mazda 626 in front of a car dealership at 2501 Capital Blvd.
The driver's door was open. The motor was still running, and the radio was still on. Police found her shoe on the floor on the driver's side.
Seven days later, a factory manager found Vinson's body a half-mile from the car lot between two warehouses near Atlantic Avenue.
She had been stabbed multiple times.
A talented dancer with aspirations to move to New York City to work on Broadway, Vinson – despite her parents' wishes – had left home for Raleigh six weeks before her death and worked for an escort service as a private dancer to help pay the way.
On the night she died, she had left her boyfriend at home to meet a client. But police say she never made it to his hotel.
In the 20 years since, detectives have sifted through leads and rumors, but there's been nothing that has helped them to get the case to trial.
Different investigators who have worked the crime have also had clashing theories about what might have happened.
Some believe Vinson just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, while others believe she knew her killer – possibly her boyfriend. He was questioned in the case but never charged.
Faulk, who's worked the case for the past five years, re-interviewing witnesses multiple times and following up on new leads, made it clear he's open to all possibilities and that no one person is a focus of the case.
He believes someone knows something – even if they don't realize it – that can help close the case.
"There's no doubt in my mind," he said. "Beth-Ellen Vinson deserves justice, and her family deserves some peace."
Russell Vinson, Beth-Ellen’s uncle, said the family still struggles with the pain of their loss and living each day without her.
"It's been 20 years since we lost Beth-Ellen. That's 20 years of birthdays, Christmases and family occasions without her presence," he said.
Not a day goes by, he says, that her father doesn't think about her, and the pain has really affected her mother.
"It's certainly a heavy burden for them to live under," he said. "They certainly would like to see some information come forward in this case."
"We're still optimistic something will come of this," he added. "I feel certain that someone out there knows something."