Slaying of Moore County deputy shatters community
Posted December 9, 2011
Vass, N.C. — Moore County mourned the loss of a long-serving law enforcement officer Friday as investigators pieced together the history of the man believed to have killed the 58-year-old deputy Thursday afternoon.
Deputy Rick Rhyne responded to a trespassing complaint and found Martin Abel Poynter, 33, and his brother in a vacant house at 752 Morrison Bridge Road. Authorities said that when Rhyne tried to arrest Poynter on an outstanding warrant for child support, Poynter pulled out a pistol, shot Rhyne in the face and then shot and killed himself. His brother doesn't face any charges.
Sheriff Lane Carter said Poynter was an Iraq war veteran from Missouri with a history of mental problems.
Neighbors said they often saw him hanging around the abandoned house, but he disappeared about two years ago.
"He's been in there off and on through the years. You never see him when he's coming in and out because he's more a person that would keep to himself," neighbor Linda Chavis said.
He always acted skittish around police, she said, even running through her home once to hide when he saw a law officer coming.
"I said, 'What are you doing? Why are you always ducking and hiding?' And he says, 'Well, before I go to jail again, I'll kill myself,'" Chavis said.
Poynter didn't have a criminal record, aside from the child support warrants, Carter said. Deputies encountered Poynter once before in 2007, when someone at the home had him involuntarily committed for mental treatment.
Property records show the house was still in Poynter's name. A man who answered the door there Friday said Poynter was a friend but he had seen him only once in several years.
Investigators believe Poynter was in Missouri for the past couple years, Carter said.
Rhyne was the first Moore County sheriff's deputy to be killed in the line of duty.
He had worked in law enforcement in the county since he was 21 years old, and acquaintances said he loved it too much to retire even when he could.
"It was in his blood, and he was a great police officer," said Foxfire Village Police Chief Mike Campbell, who was mentored by Rhyne. "He just loved it that much, and he enjoyed getting in that police car."
"He was a wonderful man and a great police officer," Carter said."He was just a great, great law enforcement officer. He served his community well."
Rhyne started part-time work with the Moore County Sheriff's Office in 2007 after rising to the rank of police chief at Foxfire Village, where he spent 26 years. He began his law enforcement career in Pinehurst in 1974.
He is survived by a wife, a son and two grandchildren.
Colleagues and friends remembered Rhyne as a friendly, joyful man.
"He came in every morning, very bubbly, very happy, a good guy," store clerk Mindy Ring, a clerk at a convenience store where Rhyne was a regular.
"When I started here (on the Firefox Village police force), he knew everybody by name, everyone who lived here," Campbell said.
"Whenever you saw Rick, he was always personable. He loved everybody," Carter said.
Visitation for Rhyne will be held 3-7 p.m. Sunday at the Boles Funeral Home in Southern Pines. A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Monday in the Owens Auditorium at Sandhills Community College.
A memorial fund in memory of Rhyne has been set up at First Bank. Anyone wishing to donate can make out a check to the "Deputy Rick Rhyne Memorial Account" and bring it to any First Bank branch or mail it to First Bank P.O. Box 125, Carthage, N.C. 28327.