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Raleigh man pleads guilty to killing Durham priest; family forgives him

Posted March 23, 2015

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— A Raleigh man pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder for the killing of a Durham priest last August and was sentenced to 25 to 31 years in prison.

Matthew John Reed, 36, was arrested on Aug. 10 after he led police to the body of Kent Torrey Hinkson, 71, in Eno River State Park in Orange County, six days after family members reported the priest missing.

Prosecutors say Reed told family members he was going to run errands on Aug. 4. Instead, he drove to a Durham McDonald's and picked up Hinkson, whom he previously met through a website. The two men drove around until they found a quiet place and had sex, Reed said.

Reed told investigators that Hinkson confided that he was a married, retired preacher.

"Reed had told the preacher that he wanted money or he was going to tell the preacher's wife about their meeting," investigators said in a warrant. "Reed admitted to killing the preacher with his own two hands."

Reed admitted to family members that he had killed someone and later admitted his crime to police officers, who noted that he "did appear to be remorseful," according to the prosecutor.

Reed said he fled Eno River State Park using Hinkson's car, parked it at a Durham apartment complex and threw the keys and some of Hinkson's personal belongings in a nearby storm drain.

Police found Hinkson's red 2011 Hyundai Sonata on Aug. 6 at The Mews Apartments on Williamsburg Road – about 4.5 miles from Hinkson's home.

Reed eventually led authorities to Hinkson's body, which was at the end of Laurel Ridge Road in Orange County, with his pants around his ankles and a shirt and belt up around his shoulders. An autopsy found that he died by strangulation and that he suffered blunt-force trauma to his skull, chest and ribs.

Hinkson's family members spoke in court Monday and remembered him as a "mentor and friend." They then turned to Reed and forgave him, citing their faith in God. Reed later dabbed his eyes with tissues.

A defense attorney for Reed offered condolences to the family and said the defendant "is devastated by what he did and what it did to the victim's family."

Hinkson had been in ministry for more than 40 years and was a volunteer minister at All Saints Church in Durham. Reed had criminal convictions on burglary charges in Georgia and Ohio.


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