Local News

Wayne County sheriff suffers fatal heart attack

Posted January 24

— Carey A. Winders, longtime sheriff for Wayne County, died after suffering an apparent heart attack early Friday, officials said. He was 57.

Winders was first elected sheriff in 1994, becoming the first Republican to hold the post.

County officials said Winders is believed to have had a “massive heart attack” while at home. He was treated by county emergency workers and taken to Wayne Memorial Hopsital, where he was pronounced dead.

“With heavy hearts, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office is announcing that Sheriff Carey A. Winders passed away this morning,” officials said in a statement. “Please keep Sheriff Winders’ family and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office in your prayers.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Winders was born in Wayne County and graduated from Charles B. Aycock High School in 1975, according to the sheriff's website. He married Teresa Sullivan in 1981, and they had three daughters. Last year, his two granddaughters were born.

He started his law enforcement career as a patrol officer with the Goldsboro Police Department in 1984 and worked his way up to investigations. In 1993, he announced his candidacy for sheriff with the goal of modernizing the agency.

Maj. Tom Effler, who has worked at the sheriff's office for 31 years, said Winders was someone he could easily talk to, even if they didn't agree.

"He took his job seriously," Effler said. "He looked after his personnel, and he looked after his county."

He said Winders was a presence in the sheriff's office.

"We knew when he was in our building. I mean, he'd come in with his cowboy boots, and he'd be walking down the hall slapping all the time," Effler said.

From Mount Olive to Parkstown, Winders relished being out in the community and rarely turned down an invitation to a fundraiser or event.

"We used to tell him, 'You need to cut back on this stuff,'" Effler said. "But you couldn't tell him that. He went to everything."

He said news of Winders' death came as a shock. The sheriff was getting ready for another day at work when he collapsed.

"He was very much a people person," Goldsboro resident Crystal Quick said. "He'd do anything for anybody. Nobody will be able to fill his shoes at all."

Maj. Fane Greenfield will serve as interim sheriff until county commissioners can appoint a permanent replacement to fulfill the remainder of Winders' term.

News of Winders' death sparked an outpouring of condolences across social media. Bodies Unlimited lnc., a Pikeville fitness center, posted a poem on its Facebook page with the message: "In honor of a fallen hero and a dedicated gym member, Carey Winders. You will truly be missed my friend."

Gov. Pat McCrory also offered condolences and support to Winders' family.

"Sheriff Winders was a beloved member of his community, held in high esteem and admired for his faith, values and love for his family," McCrory said in a statement. "His service to Wayne County since 1994 made his community a better place to live, work and play."

25 Comments

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  • workingforthosethatwont Jan 24, 7:35 p.m.

    Sheriff, thank you for your service to Wayne County and the profession. You have served us well, sadly it is time to rest in peace. May God be with you, our brother in blue.

  • flipper59 Jan 24, 6:11 p.m.

    Rest in Peace Cary. You were always there for me. Having known you since the 70's you were a one of a kind in my opinion. Good Bye my old Friend. Hope to see you again

  • driverkid3 Jan 24, 4:01 p.m.

    He was definitely a good man, always had time to have a chat with you. Didn't matter who you were or anything like that. Always smiling every time I saw him. I know his family is going to miss him and the people of Wayne county, plus everyone that knew him. Once you met him, you'd never forget him.

  • driverkid3 Jan 24, 4:01 p.m.

    He was definitely a good man, always had time to have a chat with you. Didn't matter who you were or anything like that. Always smiling every time I saw him. I know his family is going to miss him and the people of Wayne county, plus everyone that knew him. Once you met him, you'd never forget him.

  • stymieindurham Jan 24, 3:53 p.m.

    May your rest be in paradise brother LEO. My condolences to the family.

  • Jump1 Jan 24, 3:30 p.m.

    Sad to hear this, good man.

  • housemanagercary Jan 24, 2:32 p.m.

    My condolences to his family and friends.

  • davidhartman Jan 24, 2:27 p.m.

    RIP Mr. Winders!

  • carolinaprincess62 Jan 24, 1:44 p.m.

    My condolences to the family. He was one of the good ones.

  • jwstevens04 Jan 24, 1:03 p.m.

    Sheriff Winders was so good to our family and the Lenior County Sheriffs Dept. when we lost my brother-in-law in the line of duty. He went above and beyond for us all...I am trusting that we can all do the same for his family and the WCSO.

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