Local News

Apartment complex denies access to slain soldier's family

Posted August 12, 2008 4:59 p.m. EDT
Updated August 12, 2008 11:41 p.m. EDT

— The family of a slain Army nurse said Tuesday that they have been denied access to her Fayetteville apartment to recover her belongings.

The charred remains of 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc were discovered in a wooded area of Onslow County on July 13, three days after a suspicious fire was reported at her Fayetteville apartment and she was declared missing. Her estranged husband, Marine Cpl. John Wimunc, has been charged with murder in her slaying.

Police said John Wimunc and another Camp Lejeune Marine set fire to the apartment to cover up evidence of the slaying. The fire burned itself out before causing much damage, police said.

Holley Wimunc's father, Jesse James, said he traveled from his home in Dubuque, Iowa, to pack up what was left in his daughter's apartment and take some keepsakes home, but was turned away by the managers of Morganton Place Apartments.

"That pile of rubble left in Holley's apartment by her killers is, beside the memories in our minds and hearts, the only tangible and physical part left of Holley," James wrote in a letter to the apartment managers. "While nothing can lessen our sorrow and grief over the loss of Holley, the actions of the company you work for amplify the pain we feel, create more sleepless nights and add a huge burden to our already overburdened family."

Holley Wimunc's 16-year-old nephew wants to carry her running shoes in a marathon this fall, while her brother-in-law wants to attach a piece of her clothing to his motorcycle, James wrote in the letter.

"Everyone else in the family wants to own a bit of Holley to, in a small way, fill the massive void in each of our hearts," he wrote.

Apartment manager Michelle Murphy said anything in the apartment automatically belongs to John Wimunc and that she needs a document from him assigning Jesse James his power of attorney. The document would protect the complex's owner, Sentinel Real Estate, in case Wimunc were to sue, she said.

Wimunc's attorney, D.W. Bray, gave a letter signed by his client to the apartment managers Monday, authorizing the release of Holley Wimunc's belongings to James. Murphy said that isn't enough.

"It's an emotional issue for all parties involved right now, and of course we don't want to see any more stress put on any family," Bray said, adding that he hopes to have a power of attorney document completed by Wednesday. “Mr. Wimunc has deep love for the children of his wife and of course is concerned for their welfare.”