Crime-fighting website helped crack Nash cold case murder
Posted October 25, 2019 12:58 p.m. EDT
Updated October 25, 2019 4:50 p.m. EDT
Spring Hope, N.C. — A Nash County woman made her first court appearance Friday morning on charges she killed another woman 15 years ago and buried her body.
Kimberly Hancock, 49, was shackled at the waist during her brief hearing and said very little to the judge. She was arrested late Thursday and charged with first-degree murder, and she remains in the Nash County jail without bond.
Hancock is charged in the death of Deborah Elaine Deans, a mother of four who went missing in Spring Hope in January 2004.
Deans, who was 29 at the time, was last seen in the Wiley Road area.
On Thursday, investigators with the Nash County Sheriff's Office obtained a warrant to search 1402 Wiley Road, and they found human remains in a shallow grave behind the home.
Neighbor Thomas Hamby said the body was found behind Hancock's house.
"Kim left, and as soon as she left, they went digging in the yard trying to find where someone was buried at,” Hamby said Friday.
He pointed to trees wrapped in crime scene tape in the woods behind the home.
"That’s where they walked the body out, and I told my wife she did not need to see that,” he said.
Sheriff Keith Stone said an autopsy needs to be done to identify the remains and a cause of death, but he said there was "a strong possibility" the remains of those of Deans.
The search was prompted by a tip that was recently emailed to the Fighting Crime website about the location of a body. That information, which Stone said was "very detailed," was then forwarded to sheriff's office investigators, and he said it proved to be "very accurate."
The woman who runs the Fighting Crime website said the tip also named someone who might have been involved with burying the body.
"I am really not sure, and I hate to speculate. I am not positive how they knew, but they knew enough to raise the eyebrows of detectives over at the sheriff’s office,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified.
She said she has received more tips in the case since the original one.
"I am glad that person came to us and said, 'Hey, I have some information, and I want to share this,'” the woman said, crediting the investigators who followed the lead until they solved the cold case.
Hancock's previous criminal record included convictions on drug charges in the mid-1990s and driving while impaired in 2007, according to state Department of Public Safety records.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Nash County Sheriff’s Office at 252-459-4121.