Local News

Durham Police: Homicide Victim Stabbed To Death

Posted May 21, 2004 5:24 a.m. EDT

— Durham police have identified a man found dead inside his apartment Thursday afternoon.

The State Bureau of Investigation and forensic and homicide investigators remain at the Forest Hills neighborhood, collecting evidence in what police are calling a brutal murder.

On Thursday, Duke University police were notified when Curt Blackman, a Duke University employee, failed to show up for work. They entered Blackman's top-floor apartment on Hilton Avenue and discovered his body. They called Durham police.

Blackman was stabbed to death, according to investigators. In what police admit is an unusual move, nearly 24 hours after the discovery, the body was removed from the apartment and taken to the state Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill for an autopsy.

Crime scene investigators spent Thursday and Friday sifting through items and collecting evidence found in the building in the Forest Hills neighborhood.

Neighbors are being asked to check in with police as they come and go from the neighborhood.

Neighbor Kirk Griffin knew something was wrong when he saw the police at his front door.

"I think it's crazy my neighbor was murdered," he said. "I saw the cops standing in my doorway and they said he'd been killed."

According to Chi Pulley, the landlord of the apartment, Blackman was a recruiter for Duke University's graduate program, working with international students.

"He's just a nice guy. Always paid the rent on time, just a nice guy," Pulley said. "I was stunned like anyone else. Nothing like this ever happens. These tenants have been here for years."

Most neighbors said the crime seems out of place in a neighborhood known for its beauty and charm.

"It's just not the place you would expect to find a dead body," said Lt. Norman Blake, of the Durham Police Department.

"No matter where you live, you don't think you'll find your next-door neighbor dead," Griffin said.

"I'm sure the police will find out who did this and we'll all feel better quickly," Pulley said.

University officials say Blackman, of Trinidad, was supposed to leave Duke in August to start pursuing his Ph.D at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Officials said it is the city's 14th homicide of the year.


Michelle Singer