Local News

New Photos Give Police 2nd Look at Man Sought in Carson Slaying

Posted March 10, 2008 11:23 a.m. EDT
Updated March 11, 2008 12:41 p.m. EDT

— Chapel Hill police Monday evening released two new photographs of a man with whom they want to talk about the shooting death last week of Eve Carson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student body president.

The photos show a black man in a store at the time an attempt was made to use Carson’s debit card at an automated-teller machine in a local convenience store, Chapel Hill Police Chief Brian J. Curran said. He did not specify when or where the pictures were taken, saying he wanted to protect the investigation.

"The photos depict a male going into an area convenience store," Curran said. That man was the "only person in the store when an attempt was made to use Eve Carson’s ATM card."

The man in the photo appears to be the same person who was driving a sport-utility vehicle in bank ATM surveillance photos that police released Saturday morning, Curran said. He did not release the location of that bank, except to say it was in Chapel Hill.

In the earlier pictures, a black man who appears to be in his late teens or early 20s is driving what could be Carson's blue, 2005 Toyota Highlander. A silhouette seems to indicate that a second unidentified man is the back seat.

On Saturday, Lt. Kevin Gunter called the SUV driver a possible suspect.

Curran did not say whether the man succeeded in getting any money from either ATM.

Crime Stoppers received more than 200 calls over the weekend after police released the images, but police have not identified either man, Curran said. Investigators looked at stop-action images from the camera, but they were not clear enough to identify the second man.

Police were still waiting to receive the surveillance tapes from the unspecified bank.

The SUV driver wears what appears to be a hat with a vintage Houston Astros logo. Curran said Monday the hat could be a sign the man is a gang member.

"This certainly is one possible scenario," Curran said, but he added, "just talking about it would be speculation."

Investigators have been talking to gang and community service units at police agencies around the region – "anybody that might have help for us" – he said. Chapel Hill police have consulted with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, State Bureau of Investigation and local law-enforcement agencies.

Curran also played down speculation that Carson might have been in the back seat of the SUV – perhaps held at gunpoint – when the pictures were taken.

"We've looked at the photographs. From what I can tell, I do not see her in the car," Curran said. "That does not mean at some point in the investigation (we won't see that)."

Investigators believe that Carson's killer, at some point, had access to her SUV, which was found a day after her death about a mile from the crime scene. Police would like to hear from anyone who saw the SUV on March 5 or 6. The Highlander's Georgia license plate is AIV-6690.

On the day of the shooting, officers recovered Carson's cell phone about 1½ miles from the scene of her death, according to a search warrant recently released. Sprint Nextel helped police find the phone near a shopping center located on the main road that runs between Chapel Hill and Durham.

Police also retrieved Carson's laptop and memory cards from her campus office, according to the warrants. Investigators were using those, along with bank and phone records, to re-create the final hours of Carson's life.

Carson’s body was discovered Wednesday morning on Hillcrest Circle, about a half-mile from campus. A stolen-vehicle report said Carson had been shot at least once in the right temple. Police described the weapon as a handgun.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall urged Chapel Hill residents to take precautions in the wake of the killing, although he expressed confidence that the case would be solved.

Woodall said Carson's many friendships made her death particularly "tragic." One of his assistant district attorneys and a judge in Orange County knew her, he said.

"She's just made so many connections with the university community and the town," Woodall said.

Investigators still have no motive in the shooting death of the 22-year-old Athens, Ga., native and urged individuals to call police at 919-968-2760 or Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515. Callers can remain anonymous if they wish.

Woodall said he hoped the $25,000 reward offered by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees would "encourage" someone to come forward with information.