Local News

Family Reports 'Nasty Attacks' Related To Bullard Disappearance

Posted October 24, 2006

— The sister of a man once identified as a person of interest in the disappearance of a Lee County woman said Tuesday that comments and speculation about her brother have evolved into personal attacks.

"(They were) nasty, very nasty," said Diane Myatt, whose brother, David Earl Wilson, 49, authorities said loosely fit the description of a man they believe took Michelle Bullard.

Investigators said the 23-year-old disappeared after a home invasion in Broadway during the early morning hours of Jan. 2. A hunter came upon her remains last week in a rural area of Cumberland County near land owned by Wilson's brother. DNA tests confirmed the remains to be Bullard's, but a cause of death still is unknown.

Nineteen hours after Bullard's disappearance, Wilson committed suicide along a Harnett County road when sheriff's deputies tried to pull over his pickup during a traffic stop. Investigators said his suicide and Bullard's disappearance occurred within six miles of each other.

Wilson's family said he killed himself because of health and marital problems and that the two incidents were coincidental. Authorities have never publicly stated whether Wilson was ever a suspect in the case.

But, according to Myatt, public opinion differed. She said she and her family have received threatening phone calls and strange mail, which included a birthday card with Bullard's picture taped inside.

"It was signed by Michelle's mother, Karen," Myatt said.

Bullard's mother, Karen Riojas, confirmed with WRAL Tuesday that she did sent the card but said she meant no harm and was just trying to be nice.

Myatt said it only caused more pain.

"We still lost a brother, and we still don't know what happened," she said.

Although it is unclear whether Wilson and Bullard knew each other, they may have both been in a local convenience store the night before her disappearance and his death. Investigators took surveillance video from a convenience store to examine whether the two had been there at the same time.

In 1975, at age 17, Wilson pleaded guilty to a homicide that occurred during a bar fight. In 1980, he escaped from prison in North Carolina and was later caught in Michigan. He was paroled in 1998, and his parole ended in 2003.

Despite Wilson's past, Myatt said she believes her brother is innocent. But she understands some of the criticism, especially from the Bullard family.

"If that were my daughter, because of all the circumstances, I'd feel the same way," she said.

Myatt said, she, too, wants to know who killed Bullard. And if new evidence points to her brother, "then, we want to apologize and say how very very sorry we are," she said.

For now, she said, all she wants is for people to leave her family out of the investigation.


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