Podcast spurs new tips in Orange County cold case
Posted July 13, 2018 12:36 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 6:27 p.m. EDT
Hillsborough, N.C. — Nursing student Patricia Mann and her boyfriend, Jesse McBane, died tied to a tree in Orange County 47 years ago. Over the years, the trail that would lead to their killer had grown cold.
But as Maj. Tim Horne, the case's lead investigator for the Orange County Sheriff's Office, approached retirement, he found reason to hope that will change.
In fact, recent technology and new tips have Horne postponing that retirement. "I’m not going to say cautiously optimistic. I’m very optimistic," he said.
Last month, WRAL News reported Horne's disappointment after a promising DNA test on the rope that tied Mann and McBane failed to produce enough material to match to a suspect.
"No doubt this was one of the biggest disappointments," Horne said then. "It's not going to stop us."
While the test was unsuccessful, the media coverage put the case back in the spotlight. It drew a call from a retired officer who had worked for the State Bureau of Investigation, who told Horne about a similar case from 1972.
A couple on a lovers lane were approached by a man, forced into their trunk at gunpoint and driven to Orange County. That time, the victims escaped.
Horne is interviewing one of them next week.
"The cases are so similar that it’s a very, very high probability – like 99 point, whatever you want to say chance – that these suspects are the same," Horne said. "So you solve one, it’s two for one. You solve them both."
Leads have been pouring in for another reason, too.
Horne has been working with Eryk Pruitt on “The Long Dance” podcast. The audio story of the murder case was released this month.
"I’ve actually been humbled by how popular it has been," Pruitt said, noting that the podcast has more than 51,000 downloads.
"In some of the instances where we actually said in the podcast we’d like to hear more information about this, more information has come forward," Pruitt said. "It's promising."
Horne says there are three suspects in murders of Mann and McBane. One of those people is still alive.
Anyone with information about the murders of McBane and Mann should call the Orange County Sheriff's Office at 919-644-3050.