CHEROKEE, N.C. — A man who tried to elude authorities at a roadblock in western North Carolina and who was found dead in a creek was John Peck, the suspect in the fatal shooting of a college student, a sheriff's deputy said Tuesday.
Peck's identity was confirmed by New Hanover County chief deputy Tom Parker. The FBI is now handling the case.
The former University of North Carolina at Wilmington student was charged Saturday with first-degree murder in Friday's shooting death of ex-girlfriend and UNCW student Christen Naujoks, 22. Peck, 28, had been at large since the shooting, and law enforcement officials said he was armed with an assault rifle and was considered dangerous.
Law enforcement agencies in western North Carolina were advised Monday to be on the lookout for Peck, according to a statement from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Officers encountered a man believed to be Peck at Newfound Gap on the Tennessee-North Carolina line around 11:16 p.m., park officials said.
The man was seen driving south on U.S. 441. Park rangers and Cherokee County sheriff's deputies set up a roadblock. The car approached the roadblock, then turned around, and park officials said shots were fired around 11:34 p.m.
The car was found wrecked several miles north of the roadblock. Peck was found face down in a creek, wearing a t-shirt and short pants. Park officials said reports of a woman dead in the park were incorrect.
The cause of Peck's death has not been determined.
Park officials and two detectives fromthe New Hanover Sheriff's Department are assisting the FBI in the investigation that is expected to take two to three days.
Deputies found Naujoks lying on the sidewalk of her apartment complex Friday night with gunshot wounds. Witnesses said a woman was banging on doors as a man chased her with a rifle, shooting her three times.
Peck was arrested in April on charges of stalking Naujoks and making harassing calls to her. A court hearing on those charges had been scheduled for Wednesday.
On April 26, Naujoks filed for a court protective order, stating that Peck had threatened to get a gun from his father's house to kill himself on her doorstep. The request also said that Peck left 17 obscene phone messages at Naujoks' mother's house in Ohio and that Peck was following Christen Naujoks around school and stopping her from entering her car.
In that filing, Christen Naujoks advised police to consider Peck a threat.
"He's crazy," she wrote. "He will do anything to get away from police."
Peck was ordered to stay away from Naujoks and forbidden to possess a firearm. A later court document indicated he had enrolled in anger management and sexual offender treatment programs.
Naujoks was killed one month after the May 5 slaying of another female UNCW student, Jessica Lee Faulkner, 19, of Cary, who was killed in her dorm. Fellow student, Curtis Dixon, 21, of Charlotte, has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree rape, and first-degree kidnapping.
Following Naujok's murder, Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo said the school will step up its efforts to "review procedures and processes to protect our students.
"This recent tragedy further compels our commitment and resolve to explore what additional measures, if any, the university can take to ensure the safety of our university community," DePaolo said.
Meanwhile, Thomas Conway, a vice provost at North Carolina State University, said: "This could have happened on any of our campuses.
"None of us are immune to this kind of activity," Conway said.