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Oxford police seek help with two unsolved cases

Oxford police on Wednesday asked the public for help to solve a November slaying and a 2-year-old missing persons case.

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OXFORD, N.C. — Oxford police on Wednesday asked the public for help to solve a November slaying and a 2-year-old missing persons case.

"The information we are getting in both of these cases has significantly reduced in the last month, and we really want to put these things back on the front burner,” Lt. Gordon Blackwell said.

The homicide case involves the Nov. 29 shooting death of Frank Branch in his Raleigh Street home.

Before he died, Branch told officers that two masked men came into his house and shot him when he refused to give them money. Roxie Branch was inside the house at the time her husband was shot, but she was uninjured and didn't see the gunmen.

"Somebody in Oxford – I don't know who it is, but somebody – knows something, and I just wish they would come forward and tell," Roxie Branch said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

Branch would have been 78 Wednesday, his wife said.

The missing persons case involves Willie Cooper, who was last seen by his doctor on Dec. 10, 2007.

Relatives reported Cooper, who was 61 at the time, missing five weeks later. Police said he had various health issues, but they said they don't know if he's still alive, if he died of natural causes or was killed.

"We don’t believe that Mr. Cooper just dropped off the face of the earth. We believe that somebody is responsible for him being missing," Police Chief John Wolford said. "Now, whether he’s a homicide victim, we obviously don’t know, but scuttlebutt is basically all we get in the streets."

Cooper's sisters, Inez Brandon and Jerline Brandon, said they believe their brother is dead, but they just want to know for sure.

"I wake up in the night thinking about it," Jerline Brandon said. "I just cry at night, and now, for the last two or three weeks, I’ve just been dreaming about him. It’s really hard."

Police said they also have a difficult time with unsolved cases.

"You have to go to bed at night and think about the fact that you have people out there that have family members that are missing and killed, and you have to go to bed and sleep on that,” Blackwell said.


Erin Hartness, Reporter
Matthew Burns, Web Editor

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