Suspect Arrested in Trooper's Fatal Accident; Widow Speaks Out
Posted January 9, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST
FAYETTEVILLE — Investigators have captured the man they say started a high-speed chase thatended with the deathof Trooper John Duncan in Cumberland County Tuesday afternoon. Meanwhile, the trooper is being remembered by his family and friends. Freeman Taken Into Custody, Being Transported to FayettevilleAgents took Travis Freeman and his girlfriend, Chasity Blackmon, into custody just before 5 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. They reportedly were found in a Motel 6 off Interstate 95 in Lumberton.
The two were brought to the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office just before 6 p.m., where they were interrogated. Freeman is being charged with felony alluding and assault with a deadly weapon with attempt to kill. He is under a $500,000 secured bond.
Blackmon is charged with felony accessory after the fact. She is under a $50,000 secured bond. Both will have their first court appearance Thursday morning. Young Widow Speaks Out About Husband's DeathDuncan's young widow, Kim, spoke bravely at a news conference Wednesday evening. She and her husband ate lunch together for the last time Tuesday afternoon.
"Whenever he leaves, he always says that he loves me, and he never says good bye," she said. "He always says, 'I'll see you later.'"
She did not know about the arrest, but said she was pleased, and that is what her husband would have wanted.
"I just want everyone to know that my husband loved his job," she said. "He loved North Carolina and the people in North Carolina, and there's not one person in North Carolina...that he would not have died for." Friends, Family Remember Duncan as Hard-Working Family ManPeople who knew and worked with Trooper John H. Duncan Jr. cannot stop talking about him. He was admired as a trooper and a family man.
Everyone we spoke with said that Duncan always had a smile on his face.
"Most of the troopers are stunned. It hasn't set in yet," says Trooper Gary Turlington. "He was the trooper who would stop and check on you on the side of the road,"
Turlington is one of the troopers keeping vigil at Duncan's home, trying to support his family and trying to make sense of the tragic loss.
"He was the picturesque trooper. He lived it and breathed it," Turlington says. "He carried himself in a manner that made the Highway Patrol proud."
"There are no words I can say about what a great person he was, what a great trooper he was, what a great husband and father he was," says Trooper Dan Johnson, one of Duncan's friends.
Duncan was the father of three children. He and his wife, Kim, were expecting to celebrate their youngest son's first birthday.
"I'm in shock. I had spoken with John at about 1 p.m. and asked him to eat lunch," says Trooper Reggie Newberne. "But he said he was going to go home and eat with Kim. I'm so glad he did."
Duncan's death is sending shock waves through the community -- especially among the 33 members of the Highway Patrol in Cumberland County.
"We consider ourselves a close-knit family," says Highway Patrol Sgt. Everett Clendenin. "We are all hurting because of this."
Counseling is being offered for troopers and their families.
"Hopefully, we'll learn from this, grow stronger because of this," Clendenin says. "We'll lift our heads up and go on."
Duncan's name will be added to a Fayetteville monument that remembers Cumberland County law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
He is the 52nd state trooper killed in the line of duty since the patrol formed in 1929. Reporter:Melissa Buscher, Amanda LambPhotographer:Michael Joyner, Ed Wilson