Harnett Grieves for Woman Murdered by "Campground Killer"
Posted August 3, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
ERWIN — The search for the "campground killer" has left the wilderness and is moving toward the Triangle.
Police believe 21-year-old James Finley of Hickory left the wilderness and is in Montgomery County. Finley was last seen driving one of the victim's cars Monday night in a wooded area in the county.
Finley is charged with killing a Charlotte man and Tommi Danielle Byrd of Harnett county at their campsite over the weekend.
Byrd graduated from a local Erwin high school, and the community is grieving along with her relatives.
Family members and friends remember Byrd as an out-going and friendly 24-year-old, who could cheer up even the most depressed person.
"I was with her last Thursday. I was probably the last family member to be with her," Byrd's uncle Charlie Byrd said. "She was on cloud nine. She was just so happy about her new job, and her relationship with the young man that was with her."
Family members say that Byrd talked about getting engaged to her boyfriend. He was also murdered on their camping trip.
"She was just a very special individual with her initiative and drive to always make something out of herself," Byrd's uncle said. "And always to keep a good wit about her."
Tommi Byrd is set to be buried in the Erwin community on Thursday. Both her mother and step-father are teachers in Harnett County, and almost everyone in the area knows Tommi and the family.