Local News

Suspect named in Durham man's slaying

Posted January 14, 2009 11:28 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Police said Wednesday they are searching for a 28-year-old Durham man in last month's slaying of a Sunday school teacher.

A warrant has been issued charging Jameel Rasaun Thornton, of Liberty Street, with murder in the Dec. 26 death of Trevor Spain. The two men were acquaintances, police said.

Spain, 41, was found face-down in a pool of blood in the basement of his family home, at 1301 Shepherd St. Family members said there was no sign of forced entry, but several items were taken, including two TVs, cash and a DVD player.

Police haven't released information on how Spain died or a why they think he was killed. Family members said Spain was stabbed to death.

"I haven't slept a good night since this happened," said Travis Sellers, Spain's cousin.

Spain often mentored people, and Sellers said he thinks his cousin reached out to Thornton, who may have taken advantage of the situation.

"He wanted to use, and Trevor was a person he could get money from and it turned sour," Sellers said.

Thornton is also wanted on a larceny charge and a probation violation, police said.

He was placed on probation in September after receiving a suspended sentence on charges of drug possession, driving with a revoked license and wanton injury to real property, according to court records.

Durham probation officials said he never reported in. They checked his listed addresses, job records and hospital records and talked to relatives, said Tony Taylor, an assistant manager of the Durham probation office.

"We checked everything. We know (if) we can't find them (and) they're not reporting, (we're) declaring them an absconder," Taylor said. "We began to prepare the violation order for his arrest."

Thornton's record consisted of misdemeanors, and Taylor said he got lost amid the 800 offenders the five probation officers are looking for in Durham.

"We would not want this to ever happen, but this does happen," he said, referring to a probationer committing a serious crime. "There are a lot of offenders, and they're going to do that."

Police said Thornton is known to frequent the areas of Liberty Street, Holloway Street, East Club Boulevard and the Oxford Manor housing community.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Cpl. N.M. Cloninger of the Durham Police Department at 919-560-4440, ext. 245, or Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200.