Investigators, Flood Victims Continue To Search For Storm Troopers Builder
Posted August 8, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT
PRINCEVILLE — Robert McKee, the man accused of taking money from flood victims, has been indicted on four counts of obtaining property by false pretenses. The problem is investigators cannot find him.
When McKee arrived in Edgecombe County after Hurricane Floyd, his "Storm Troopers" signs were everywhere. He had big plans to work cheap and put hundreds of people back in their homes.
"We will probably, on the average, do 300 to 400 homes a year. Therefore we can operate on a $2,000 profit margin rather than a $10,000 profit margin," McKee said in a earlier interview with WRAL.
McKee did not finish any of the houses. Instead, he ended up in jail in February for writing bad checks.
TheState Bureau of Investigationwants to lock him up again. Agents say he may have cheated homeowners out of more than $500,000.
Flood victim Harry Byrd says he is still furious over McKee's hasty departure. He says McKee worked on his house for about a week before he left.
"He took $16,000 from me. He worked on my house though," Byrd says. "If he was standing here right now, I would ask him why? Why did he do this to us? He had the money. All he had to do was pay the workers and do the job. The next thing I know, he was in jail and gone."
Another flood victim, Jessie Murphy, was luckier than Byrd. McKee almost finished her home before he left. She says she is surprised to hear that someone who appeared to be so nice could hurt people in their time of need.
"He seemed so friendly. He treated everyone nicely as far as I could see," she says. "I think it surprised a whole lot of people."
Byrd says he had to borrow the money he paid McKee. He is still having to make payments on it. Many of the homeowners say they feel that they would have been in their homes sooner if it was not for McKee and his empty promises.