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Dead Man Linked to Michelle Bullard's Slaying

Posted December 6, 2007

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— A man who committed suicide almost two years ago kidnapped and killed a Lee County woman hours before his death, authorities said Thursday.

Julie "Michelle" Bullard, 23, was abducted from a mobile home in the Broadway community of Lee County on Jan. 2, 2006, by an armed intruder. Her remains were found 10 months later in Cumberland County.

Investigators never named a suspect in the case, but early on had identified David Earl Wilson, 49, as a person of interest because he roughly fit the description of the intruder. He had served more than 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to a murder in 1975.

Within 19 hours of Bullard's disappearance, Wilson committed suicide on a Harnett County road when deputies tried to pull him over.

Wilson's family has maintained that his suicide had nothing to do with Bullard and that he was suffering health and marital problems.

But Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter said Thursday that physical evidence in the case and witness statements prove Wilson killed Bullard. He declined to elaborate, saying the investigation is ongoing.

"Although the evidence is clear that Wilson acted alone in the robbery, kidnapping and murder of Julie 'Michelle' Bullard, the investigation will continue to remain open in regards to whether Wilson received any assistance after he committed these crimes," Carter said at a news conference.

Bullard's mother, Karen Riojas, had complained for months that authorities didn't take her daughter's disappearance seriously and were slow to investigate the case.

"Finally, someone stood up and looked at this case and the facts," she said Thursday.

Still, Riojas said identifying Wilson as her daughter's killer doesn't provide any closure for her.

"He took something that was beyond precious to me – just priceless – (and I) can't regain it," Riojas said. "To me, even though today is Michelle's justice day, two wrongs don't make a right.

"May David rest in peace. May Michelle rest in peace."

Wilson's family is distressed by the statement Thursday.

"I won't believe it untill I see some evidence. I have not seen any evidence," David Wilson's brother, William, said. He added that he did not understand why investigators would resurrect the case without disclosing new information.

The Wilsons' sister, Joyce Horton, said, "I believe in my heart my brother did not do this. They have got to show some proof. They want to close a case on a dead man. They want to close a case on my brothers name."

Investigators said an armed man wearing a mask broke into a mobile home where Bullard was watching television with three friends. The gunman tied the friends with tape and left each in a separate room, then stole cash and small valuables.

By the time the victims freed themselves, Bullard and the intruder were gone.

Bullard's wallet and purse turned up a few weeks later along a road in southeastern Cumberland County. But intensive searches by authorities and volunteers turned up no trace of her.

In October 2006, a hunter found Bullard's remains in an old cemetery in the Cedar Creek community of Cumberland County, five miles from where her belongings turned up.

An autopsy report stated Bullard died of blunt force trauma to the head. The report said there was no evidence of injuries other than a blow to the left side of her head.

56 Comments

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  • scsaleen2002 Dec 7, 3:53 p.m.

    No code words, just trying to be polite, tell Mr. Coble I said hello. He is an extremely nice man and has done alot for the community and school he is in charge of.

  • URADA Dec 7, 3:48 p.m.

    "be sure to tell Mr. Coble hello"

    If that is some sort of code speak, I do not have the decoder ring. The eagle flies at dawn.

  • scsaleen2002 Dec 7, 11:16 a.m.

    be sure to tell Mr. Coble hello

  • URADA Dec 7, 10:55 a.m.

    "You know you say you have a degree in Criminology, what are you doing with it? Let me guess, probably working in Chatham County"

    Actually you are the one who looks ignorant. Why the personal attacks and the slam on Chatham Co.? You can't handle a civil debate? You obviously have some problems with the truth about the current LCSD coming out. As I said before, everyone is not a blind follower of the Sanford Herald.

    "You know LCSD you watch too much tv"
    You make an awful lot of ASSumptions about me.

    "You know you say you have a degree in Criminology, what are you doing with it?"
    Well, if you must know, I am in the educational field at the moment. Thanks for asking.

  • scsaleen2002 Dec 7, 10:27 a.m.

    You know LCSD you watch too much tv, for someone to be "highly" educated as you bluntly let all of us know, there are many things that can be evidence. DNA is good, but cases are solved everyday without it. But to answer your question I do have a clue and I have had one since Jan. 2, 2006. So if you want to keep thinking that you can bash the S.O. go ahead, you are only making yourself look stupid. You know you say you have a degree in Criminology, what are you doing with it? Let me guess, probably working in Chatham County.

  • NANA13 Dec 7, 7:38 a.m.

    Isn't it amazing that the once "school" cop can find evidence that the SBI couldn't? A known drug house and the only person Carter can find to blame is one who can't defend himself? I hope Mr. Wilsons family sues Carter right out of a job.

  • Nukelhed Dec 7, 7:21 a.m.

    This story is updated Dec 6th at 10:49pm? What is new about it from that point?

  • msncdso Dec 7, 2:03 a.m.

    Politics aside, if there is new evidence, why not show it? I would like to see the results if lie detector tests were given to the three other occupants where the kidnapping occurred.
    Incidently, LCSDajoke is mighty close to correct.

  • dryhumper Dec 6, 9:56 p.m.

    "I hope Lee County isn't judged by others by some of these ugly, juvenile comments being posted by small minded people with their own personal ax to grind."

    OldRebel,

    I also grew up in Lee County and know of the "boy's club" that exists in the police departments. I will stand by my words about George Bates and the others. Broadway isn't that big of a place and for one department to be so inept is beyond me. From the rape of the cashier at the Kangaroo to the Bullard case, Bates and his deputies should be held responsible for these cases. Not to mention the gambling that goes on in the city limits, it has for several years at one place in particular. Their incompetence has helped spurn crime, illegal immigrants and other seedy activities.

    I will never trust the Sanford Police Department. Since the Bill Frederick years and later firing of this mongrel I have seen no relevant actions taken to help connect back a community and find that trust that was so much damaged.

  • bomanicous Dec 6, 9:47 p.m.

    KILLERS KILL they need to be exterminated so they don't KILL again. they are always capable of KILLING guards, inmates or most likely unsuspecting civilians. WAKE UP and get rid of these KILLERS!!!

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