Local News

Man says he's owed $10K reward in 2006 murder case

Posted June 11, 2010 7:41 p.m. EDT
Updated June 11, 2010 7:52 p.m. EDT

— A man whom prosecutors have credited with helping capture a convicted felon who shot and killed five men says he still hasn't received $10,000 in reward money that was promised in the case.

"I didn't do this seeking reward," Calvin Pendergraft said Friday. "I'm not trying to be greedy, but if you're going to post a reward for anything, you need to put the money in the bank. You need to live up to your end of the bargain."

Pendergraft followed Samuel James Cooper from a Garner Bank of America on Nov. 21, 2007, and stayed on the phone with a 911 operator, detailing Cooper's route.

With his help, police were able to catch up to Cooper when he ditched his vehicle and ran into the nearby Domino's Pizza Distribution Center in an effort to flee police.

Cooper was convicted earlier this year in that robbery and also in the deaths of five men, including LeRoy Jernigan on June 3, 2006.

In the weeks following Jernigan's murder, his family put up a $10,000 reward in the case. Now, the family says it doesn't have the money.

"I hate it for the family. The family did post rewards," Pendergraft said. "And now nobody seems to have any money. Nobody is thinking about me anymore. So I don't know what to do."

Jernigan's brother, John Jernigan, says the family wants to pay Pendergraft but that reward sponsors never delivered the money, as promised. He says the family is still trying to raise it.

"Mr. Pendergraft, in our eyes, is still the hero," Jernigan said. "He's worth more than $10,000, but with the economy as it is, people are not giving. We promised all the money. There should have been no issues."

The family says it has raised $300 and is hoping to receive more from churches and other organizations during the next few weeks.

Pendergraft did receive $1,500 in reward money from the North Carolina Banker's Association, but he said he feels he still deserves more. The organization had offered up to a $10,000 reward for help in the bank robbery.

"They will not explain to anybody why they paid that amount," Pendergraft said. "There were guns involved. There was a chase involved; the man was a mass murderer. I guess they don't take any of that into consideration."