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New Tip Provides Substantial Lead in Brittany Locklear Murder Case

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RAEFORD, N.C., MAY 6, 1998 — The passage of time is always an enemy in unsolved murder cases, and it has now been four months since the abduction and murder of 5-year-old Brittany Locklear. Just this past weekend, however, deputies received a hot tip that could lead to her killer.

The day after Hoke County Sheriff Wayne Byrd lost his bid for re-election, he says he now has a new and solid lead in the Locklear case. The tip was phoned in Sunday night and now deputies want to question a man who once lived within 15 miles of the Locklear home.

Some think that the failure to solve this case might have been part of what cost Byrd his job. He spent the day before election day following this lead, not campaigning. With the child's killer still on the loose, Byrd says some voters may have lost faith.

"If that is the case, then I would rather have the right person than have an election behind that I'd won based on ruining somebody or doing a hasty arrest," Byrd told WRAL-TV5's Melissa Buscher.

Challenger Jim Davis beat Byrd with 55 percent of the vote. Some Hoke County residents believe his victory came as the result of people wanting change, and wanting Brittany's murderer behind bars.

"Even though [officers] tried to do a lot, they did say they were doing all they could, but there were a lot of people that felt like they could do more," said Hoke County resident Sylvania Winstom.

Resident Donald Biggs said, "I think it's more of a reaction on the part of the voters of frustration with the lack of progress in the case, and I just think they're lashing out or wanting to take some sort of action that will hopefully bring some concrete results."

At the Locklear home, there was a campaign sign in support of Sheriff Byrd, posted next to a flowery memorial of Brittany. Byrd says his primary goal in life is to find the killer.

Davis says he also will not give up until the murder is solved.

"We will continue to work with the SBI," Davis said. "We will continue to sift through the myriad of evidence that we have to discern what happened and who was involved."

Sheriff Byrd says he feels confident he will make an arrest by the time he leaves his post in September. If not, he says he will continue as a private citizen to do whatever he can to help in cooperation with the new administration.


Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer

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