Randall Jones, 39, was arrested in Johnston County driving James Medlin's stolen truck. A passenger who also was in the truck was being questioned by police.
Relatives found Medlin's dead body inside his home just outside Louisburg Monday night.
For more than 15 years, Medlin worked in the town of Louisburg's waste water treatment facility. He lived by himself.
Franklin County Sheriff Jerry Jones said that, about a week ago, Medlin took in Jones, who possibly was down on his luck.
"The victim had a clear record, he was trying to help. We think he took in the wrong person. Drugs motivated the suspect to go on a binge. That's what we think at this time," he said.
"James was never late for work," town administrator C.L. Gobble said. "Never missed a day's work."
When the 35-year-old Medlin did not show up Monday, co-workers knew something was wrong. They went looking for him, thinking he may have slid off the road in the snow.
Investigators said Medlin was found dead in his bedroom with a head injury and puncture wounds to his ribs and chest.
Sheriff Jones said Randall Jones' background includes a criminal record.Jones faces murder and theft charges. Officials said other charges are possible.
Gobble said it would be "exactly" like Medlin to try and help someone in need.
"In fact, every day he left work at lunch to help with his mother," Gobble said Tuesday.
Investigators believe robbery was the motive for the killing. In addition to his truck, Medlin's bank card and other financial documents were missing from his home Monday.
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