Local News

Serial Killer's Capture Catches Attention Of Raleigh Police, Local Families

Posted April 13, 2000

— John Armstrong, a Navy sailor, was arraigned Friday in connection with five murders in and around Detroit. While investigators in nearly every corner of the world reopen cases, a Wayne County family wants to know if their daughter ever crossed paths with Armstrong.

Six years ago, Beth Ellen Vinson was found murdered in a ditch near Capital Boulevard and the Beltline. Vinson, a country girl who wanted to be a dancer, had recently moved from Wayne County to Raleigh where she worked for an escort service.

Police have gone to great lengths to solve the case to the point of recreating her jewelry to see if that would jog anyone's memory of the incident.

The family says they were cautiously optimistic when they heard that Armstrong was captured, believing that there could be a link to Beth-Ellen's case.

"We try not to get excited because disappointments are hard to take," says Penny Vinson, Beth-Ellen's mother. "We are hoping that whatever comes of this is good."

When police mentioned that Armstrong may have been in the Navy at the time of Vinson's death, their hopes may have faded a little, but the family is still not dismissing the potential lead in the case.

"I would be wonderful to finally find the person who killed our daughter, not that that would bring our daughter back but it would give us a sense of closure that, to this point, we have not been able to find," Vinson says.

Raleigh police say that two other murders in the area may be linked to Armstrong as well.

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