Local News

Convicted killer charged in 7-year-old's 1984 death

Posted June 8, 2010 12:18 p.m. EDT
Updated June 11, 2010 1:52 p.m. EDT

— A man serving a life sentence in prison for kidnapping and killing an 8-year-old Chapel Hill girl in 1985 faces new charges in connection with a similar case from a year earlier.

A grand jury indicted , 61, Monday on murder, first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree arson charges in the killing of 7-year-old Carrie Wilkerson.

Wilkerson was found strangled and sexually assaulted inside her burning home in Rocky Brook Trailer Park in Carrboro on Feb. 22, 1984.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said during a court hearing Tuesday that Fisher had been a suspect in the case after the death of 8-year-old Jean Fewel a year later but that authorities could never link him to the crime.

Fisher, serving his sentence at Maury Correctional Institution in Greene County, was convicted in 1985 of attempted rape and murder in Fewel's death. She was kidnapped in Chapel Hill while walking to school and was later found hanging from a tree near Finley Golf Course.

Investigators received new information several weeks ago that prompted them to reopen Wilkerson's case, Woodall said. The State Bureau of Investigation and the Carrboro Police Department linked Fisher to the crime using DNA testing that was not available during the original investigation.

Rebecca Lowery, Wilkerson's mother, said she had lost hope that the case would ever be solved, and that, while relieved, the arrest has stirred painful memories.

"It's eaten me. I'm so thankful now," she said. "I want to see him – and for him to see me – and know this has not been forgotten and to know he is not getting away with this."

Wilkerson's stepmother at the time, Norma Shivers, called the arrest a "start of closure" for the family.

Fisher, she said, was her best friend's husband.

"We knew who it was. They just didn't have the evidence," Shivers said. "I've known it all along."

Fisher will remain in the state Department of Correction's custody at Maury Correction Institution, DOC spokesman Keith Acree said.