Hillsborough, N.C. — A confidential informant told investigators that Demario James Atwater admitted to abducting Eve Carson from her home and taking her to withdraw $1,400 from an ATM.
That's according to six search warrants made public Friday on Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour's ruling that their release no longer posed a threat to the integrity of the investigation into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill senior's death.
The informant said Atwater confided to her that Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr. shot Carson multiple times and that he shot her as well.
Police investigators were able to confirm both claims – $1,400 was withdrawn from Carson's bank account over a two-day period and two weapons were used in the shooting, the warrant stated.
Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall, however, told WRAL News on Friday that detectives don't believe the suspects went into Carson's home, as the informant claims in the warrants.
Woodall wouldn't comment on the evidence, but says that in general, confidential sources can be valuable.
"Law enforcement can sometimes verify information and that's what can build a case," Woodall said. "And that's certainly what we're working toward."
Defense attorneys call the information hearsay, say it hasn't been tested in open court and worry about it tainting a potential jury pool.
"The allegations are from anonymous sources, confidential informants, who may have their own reasons for giving this information," Lovette's attorney, Karen Bethea-Shields, said.
It's still unclear how the suspects – each charged with first-degree murder – might have encountered Carson. Police have said they believe her death was a random crime.
Police found the 22-year-old's body about a half-mile from campus on the morning of March 5 while responding to reports of gunshots.
The warrants state Carson died from multiple gunshots, but it does not say how many or where. Investigators were seeking firearms including "a shotgun and/or .25-caliber pistol." Those questions could be answered Monday when Carson's autopsy report is released.
Six days after the homicide, an anonymous caller contacted Crime Stoppers, saying that a man she knows as "Rio" told her that he and an unknown individual took Carson to the ATM with the plan of obtaining her personal identification number and then killing her.
The caller also connected investigators with the confidential informant, who told them that the suspects forced Carson into the back seat of her Toyota Highlander with Atwater. Lovette drove, she said.
That information is consistent with ATM surveillance video images released to the media, investigators said in the warrant.
The informant also volunteered to wear a wire but instead used an open cell phone line for investigators to tape a conversation in which Atwater spoke of the crime and his involvement, the warrant also said.
In search warrant affidavits for Atwater's and Lovette's homes, investigators say Atwater admitted to them he was the subject of a surveillance photo taken at a Durham BP convenience store at the same time someone tried to use Carson's ATM card.
Atwater identified Lovette in an ATM surveillance photo taken the same morning Carson was shot, investigators said.
And during a crime scene examination of Carson's SUV, investigators found a partial shoe print on a Bank of America receipt that was generated when Lovette and Atwater allegedly made a withdrawal from Carson's account, the warrants state.
Sixteen pairs of shoes – 12 from Lovette's home and four from Atwater's home – were among the items seized. Other items included:
- 22 shoe boxes and a receipt from Lovette's home.
- Three single shoes and a shoe box from Atwater's home
- Various vehicle keys, two shotgun shells, a cellular phone, two cameras and personal writings from Atwater's home
- Hair, saliva and blood samples from Atwater and Lovette
Authorities say such samples are standard in kidnapping and homicide cases involving female victims. Woodall said Friday that investigators do not believe a sexual assault occurred.