Local News

Suspect Charged in Rocky Mount Church Stabbings

Posted October 19, 2007 7:15 a.m. EDT
Updated October 20, 2007 4:46 p.m. EDT

— Police on Friday arrested and charged a man they say confessed to stabbing two Meals on Wheels workers, one fatally, inside a Rocky Mount church's kitchen.

Tommy Lee Holiday, 30, faces multiple charges in the Thursday death of Debbie Kornegay, 58. He is accused of attempted first-degree murder in the stabbing of Eve Beasley, 60. Holiday was in the Nash County Jail without bond.

An officer picked up Holiday in a secluded park in Edgecombe County Friday morning after spotting a man matching the description of the assailant, police Chief John Manley said at a news conference late Friday morning.

In addition to murder, Holiday is charged with resisting, delaying and obstruction; two counts of armed robbery, and larceny of a motor vehicle.

Investigators recovered Kornegay's 2002 charcoal gray GMC Yukon XL on Thursday evening in a parking lot at Hunter Hill Senior Village on Noell Lane, about 2.5 miles away from Lakeside Baptist Church, where the crimes occurred.

Kornegay, the director of Rocky Mount's Meals on Wheels, and Beasley, the assistant director, were preparing meals at the church when, police said, a man entered the kitchen and stabbed them multiple times, police said.

"They were going about their daily business of providing service for Meals on Wheels there at the church, and after it was over, these things transpired," Manley said.

Kornegay was pronounced dead at Nash General Hospital. Beasley was listed in critical condition at Pitt Memorial Hospital Friday morning.

Investigators said Holiday appeared to be a drifter who wandered near the church and that they believe Kornegay had him into the church to help him.

"She was a lady who was doing what was right, trying to reach out to help somebody, and this tragedy took place," Manley said.

Manley said Kornegay had called shelters trying to seek assistance for Holiday and also had spoken with her daughter and described the man to her.

"Why she would do that, only God knows. I don't know, but she did that," Manley said, adding that the description was critical in helping investigators make an arrest.

Court records show Holiday was released from prison in Nash County in August after serving 11 months on a felony breaking and entering conviction. He also has several convictions dating to 1993 on charges ranging from larceny, larceny of firearms and robbery.

Police also arrested Keith Otis Dunn, 26, of Rocky Mount, on Thursday evening after they found him with Kornegay's cellular phone. He was charged with felony possession of stolen property. Dunn was released Friday from the Nash County jail after posting a $15,000 bond.

Manley said robbery was a motive and that the purse of one of the victims appeared to have been rummaged through.

"There certainly was no real reason that anyone should have even wanted to harm either one of them," Manley said. "Mrs. Beasley and Mrs. Kornegay were trying to help him."

Calling the case one of the most senseless he has seen in his career of more than 20 years, Manley said, "It disturbs me, greatly, that one would go to the heart of a place where someone is actually trying to help them and do this to them."

"It speaks, I think, to the core of any good-living human being to know that when you're trying to do something to help somebody, that still, this could happen," he added.

Meanwhile, Friday, a grieving community gathered at Lakeside Baptist Church for a worship service that became a place of refuge and solace.
Lakeside Pastor Dr. Jody Wright said the gathering served to unite a grieving community.

"We felt there was a need in the community, particularly among the Meals on Wheels volunteers, to simply be together," he said. "We could have sat in silence and that would have helped."

Wright said he thinks there will be more community worship services. Kornegay's funeral was scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 231 N. Church St., in Rocky Mount.

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