Local News

Investigators Follow New Clues in 35-Year-Old Slaying

Posted November 22, 2007
Updated November 23, 2007

— Bonnie Neighbors, 33, disappeared in December 1972 while on her way to pick up her son from school. After an extensive search, the mother of two from Benson was found slain in an abandoned migrant worker housing unit. Her infant son was found huddled next to her body unharmed.

Her killer has remained at large for 35 years, but investigators are using modern technology to follow new leads in the case.

“In 1972, I was only 14 years of age, but I remember that case,” Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said.

Seven months ago, Bizzell re-opened Neighbors file because of what he described as a gut feeling.

“We've got a list of individuals, that are individuals of interest in this case, that are still living and we're gonna be knocking on their doors possibly,” Bizzell said.

A cold-case squad was set up in April to look into Neighbors' slaying. Since then, deputies have received several tips.

New DNA evidence discovered on Neighbors' clothing was sent to the SBI lab for analysis. The evidence later ruled out a man that had allegedly never cooperated with investigators and who was thought of as a person of interest by Neighbors' family.

Neighbors' husband said with the new focus on the case he hopes deputies will get the clue they need to make an arrest.

“It was nice to know, now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, thank goodness,” said Ken Neighbors. "I'm patient, have to be. But it (an arrest) will be here I think."

A $20,000 reward was offered in the 1970's, but no one came forward then. Bizzell said he would like to again see a reward offered again for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.


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  • Timbo Nov 23, 2007

    If they had evidence to rule out an individual, then I don't see how the Sheriff is bluffing. Hope they get the person, ASAP.

  • Tarheel Army Mom Nov 23, 2007

    Kudos to a great sheriff...Steve Bizzell for re-opening this case. Hope the family gets the peace they deserve.

  • taylor boy Nov 23, 2007

    Its amazing. You just never know what can come back to haunt you in later years.

  • jet919 Nov 23, 2007

    To childfreeinrdu-----Apparently you don't know the integrity of our sheriff in Johnston County

    I knew Bonnie Neighbors and her dear sweet mother and her in-laws. They were the kind of people any christian person would want to have as an acquaintance. I have prayed for many years that Bonnie's killer would be found. If there are any leads at all, they are better than none. I am thrilled that this case has been reopened. I only hope that this person who has roamed free for so many years will finally have his freedom revoked and he will spend the rest of his days behind bars or better still, the death penalty will be imposed. In this state, he would die of natural causes before he would be put to death but still would spend his time on death row.

    Hopefully, justice will come forth and prevail!!!!!

  • dogsrule12cheek Nov 23, 2007

    I hope this will bring the killer forward and the family
    can finally have a closing, God Bless.

  • childfreeinrdu Nov 23, 2007

    Sounds like a bluff to me. They may have suspects, but no evidence. They are hoping that this story will make one of the suspects panic and confess. Just like on the tee-vee!

  • WilloWSnapper Nov 23, 2007

    I love the news sorry about yuour loss. My feeling is this, alot of people always turn around and sue the police or city for not doing their jobs when people forget the technology we have today couldn't even have been dreamed of 35 yrs ago !

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Nov 23, 2007

    Even with the new efforts, they still may never know who did it. But the technology today is awesome. There are groups that constantly remind us of the few who are released from prison due to being proved innocent. There are a few. But these incorrect inprisonments mostly occured in past decades where the technology wasn't available. And they were convicted on circumstantial evidence. These groups are fighting a losing battle since there will be fewer and fewer innocent people convicted due to awesome technology. Just as technology got better to help prove innocence, it too can prove someone guilty 35 years later.

  • xchief661 Nov 22, 2007

    No doubt some of this womans family has passed on and will not get the chance to see the outcome. Soon she will rest in peace and her family will find comfort as well. Hats off to DNA and our law enforcement who just don't give up or forget someones life that meant so much to their families. God Bless her children and family who have suffered so much!

  • I_love_ the_ News Nov 22, 2007

    35 yrs...I couldn't imagine what this family has been through.
    My mom was murdered in 2005 ,and the man was caught.
    I honestly can't imagine justice not being served for 35 long yrs.
    My prayers are with this family,
    God Bless