THE HUNT FOR A KILLER
By Jennie Jones Giles
As the investigation into the triple murder heated up, the SBI set up a hot line and temporary office in the Mountain Aire Cottages on the Asheville Highway. Tips poured in to agents as they answered hundreds of phone calls from residents.
There were plenty of rumors to sort through.
A jealous gay lover and the possibility of a hit man hired by prominent, wealthy Henderson County residents were two possibilities.
Other theories included blackmail, corruption of the county’s youth and illegal drugs.
Henderson County Sheriff Paul Z. Hill, SBI agent Gary Satterfield and Hendersonville Police Chief Bill Powers worked the first five months of the investigation, with the help of Buncombe County Sheriff Harry Clay.
Early on investigators were told by friends of Shipman and Glass that there were photographs of people in compromising positions somewhere in Shipman’s house. But when agents searched the house they found no photographs. Several witnesses told the SBI that someone removed the photos from Shipman’s house, and anonymous sources said the photos were sexually explicit.
People in town say parents did not want investigators to see the photos and had someone remove them from Shipman’s house. But one friend told the Times-News that the photos were not of young people supposedly involved in parties at Glass’ house.
“I saw some of the pictures,” said a close friend of Glass and Shipman. “They were not taken at parties. They were not of young people. The pictures I saw were of straight guys without their clothes who posed willingly for the pictures.
“None of the men were under 18. Some were married men who lived in town. Everybody thought they were straight, even their wives.”
“They weren’t blackmailing anyone,” the friend said. “Vernon was extremely generous. He would give you the shirt off his back. He was that way towards everybody.”
Investigative reports say that Shipman paid young adults for sex. Investigators were told that Shipman gave the teens loans for sex.
Underage teens did attend Glass’ parties, one source recently said.
“I went to one at the age of 14,” she said. “You couldn’t buy drugs then like people do now. You had to know somebody. You had to go to one of these parties. Doctors and lawyers’ kids were attending. It was the first link with drugs coming into the county.”
Some folks thought the other homosexual men in town feared the investigation would out them and had someone steal the photos.
“A lot of things were kept behind closed doors, including the investigation,” said Ronnie Hollifield, circulation manager at the Times-News and a witness who saw the victims on Evans Road the day of the murders. “People didn’t talk about homosexuals back then.”
Glass didn’t hide his homosexuality.
Hoyle Adams, administrator of Glass and Shipman’s estates, hired a man to clean out Glass’ house and truck his belongings to the county landfill. He took several loads.
“A bulldozer was waiting there and immediately covered everything up,” the man who hauled the items said.
Hauled away were “lots of mattresses and Japanese and Chinese junk; also, things used to smoke opium,” he said. “There were a lot of old pictures and books of nude children.”
He said at least two loads of clothes were hauled off, a lot of comic books and “lots of pornographic literature. That stuff was covered up real quick like. Some of the stuff gave off an odor.”
SHIPMAN FRIEND BECAME AN EARLY SUSPECT
By Jennie Jones Giles
One of the first people investigated for the triple slaying still ranks high on the suspect list by investigators.
Calvert Hunt Jr. saw the victims in Shipman’s car July 17. He said the fourth person in the car, in the back seat next to Shumate, was Frank Myers.
People told investigators that Myers took the photos out of Shipman’s house. Another person said someone else stole them and gave them to Myers.
Myers was the son of the late Louise Myers Nichols, one of several people who reported Glass and Shipman missing. Myers was the half-brother of Sue Nichols Nicholson, who told police she spoke with Glass on the telephone about 5:30 p.m. the Sunday of the murders.
Myers, 25 at the time of the murders, was Shipman’s close friend. Hunt, a former employee of the Tempo Music Shop, knew Myers.
“Frank was loud, boisterous, sort of like a John Belushi,” a friend of Myers said. “He was good looking and all the women were after him. Yet, he and Vernon had a thing for years.”
On Monday morning, July 18, Calvert Hunt got a call from another former employee saying that Glass had not shown up to work at Tempo Music.
Hunt told the employee that he had seen Myers in the car with Shipman and Glass early Sunday evening. Soon after this conversation, Myers’ mother called Hunt and told him he must be mistaken. Her son had been at Lake Norman outside Charlotte with the family that Sunday.
“I knew I was not mistaken, but at the time thought little of it,” Hunt recently said in an interview.
Missing folder of IOUs
In the week after the men went missing, Hunt, who had a key to the shop, let Hendersonville Chief of Police Bill Powers into the store.
“Bill was interested in the file cabinets in the back room, in a folder near the rear of the second drawer from the top,” Hunt said. “He discovered a number of IOUs from Frank Myers to Vernon Shipman.”
Hunt estimated the total at about $1,000.
“After the bodies had been discovered, Bill and I went back to the store and discovered the folder with the IOUs was missing,” Hunt said.
Hunt and others said Glass was jealous of the friendship between Myers and Shipman.
“Charles made a voodoo doll of Frank, disfiguring the face,” Hunt said. “Shortly afterward, Frank was involved in an automobile accident.”
Myers was seriously injured and needed plastic surgery. Another friend confirmed the story.
“Frank Myers borrowed money from those fellows,” the friend said. “Glass was jealous of Myers and took a doll, broke its arms, in a voodoo hex on Myers. Soon after that, Frank ended up in a wreck. Frank said he knew he was harmed by that.”
Lynn Martin Blackwell, a friend of Shipman, Glass and Myers, said that Shipman helped pay for the plastic surgery.
“He wanted Frank to pay him back,” she said. “Frank laughed him off. Charles (Glass) was very jealous of Frank. Everyone knew he didn’t like Frank.”
Lamar Sheppard, a friend of Myers’ brother, Charles, said he visited Myers in Charlotte after the accident. No one can remember precisely when the accident happened in Charlotte.
“Frank’s face was covered with bandages,” Sheppard said. “Frank said he had been in an accident. Somebody had tried to run him off the road. While we were there visiting, Vernon Shipman walked in. Vernon had come to Charlotte to visit Frank. That’s the last time I saw Vernon Shipman alive.”
When questioned by authorities, Myers said that he was with his mother, his wife, brother and other family members at Lake Norman that Sunday, July 17.
His mother corroborated his alibi.
“I heard her stick up for Frank,” one friend said. “She would say he was somewhere, when he might not have been there. I’ve been there when Frank’s mother lied for him.”
“Frank’s mother would definitely lie for him,” Blackwell added.
Did suspect have alibi?
In 1966, Myers’ brother, Charles, was in the Air Force based in Florida. He was never asked by investigators if he was at the lake with his brother on that day in 1966. Today, 40 years later, he cannot remember.
“Why didn’t someone call me then?” he asked. “Why ask now, after 40 years, and expect me to remember? If someone had bothered asking me then, I would have remembered.”
He said he did not know his brother was a suspect until two years ago when his mother died.
His mother told investigators in 1966 that her daughter, Sue, had telephoned and spoke with Glass at the Shipman house about 5:30 p.m. July 17. She was calling to see if Shipman would baby-sit for her nephew so she and her sister-in-law, Charles Myers’ wife, could go out to eat.
Sue Nichols Nicholson said she heard Shipman in the background telling Glass to get off the phone several times and then heard footsteps and Glass saying, “No Vernon, God, no, don’t hit me,” before someone hung up the phone.
Charles Myers said it was possible he was at the lake with his brother and other family members and his wife may have stayed in Hendersonville.
“Why would she call those two to baby-sit my son?” he asked in the phone interview.
Powers said he and a SBI agent went to Charlotte to talk with Frank Myers, but the interview did not shed any evidence on the investigation.
“He (Frank) used to get money off Shipman and Glass, for alcohol and such,” Powers said.
One friend said Myers took the photographs from the Shipman house, but she did not think he was the murderer.
“Frank got rid of the pictures,” she said. “Quite a few of the people in the pictures were considered straight arrows by the community. Frank would have done that to protect friends of his.”
She said Hunt must be mistaken about seeing Myers in the car July 17.
Sheriff Jim Kilpatrick, who defeated Hill in the election for sheriff in November 1966, picked up the investigation of Myers.
Myers died in 1969 in Charlotte in a domestic dispute. He was shot by his aunt’s husband, a Charlotte policeman.
A friend who attended Myers’ funeral said a SBI agent was at the service.
“The SBI agent told me that Frank had been identified by a witness who saw him with Vernon and Charles on Little River Road the last day they were seen alive,” the friend said.
“The sheriff at the time Frank died was convinced Frank did it,” another friend who attended the funeral said.
She said Kilpatrick attended Myers’ funeral in Charlotte and told her ex-husband that he was convinced Myers committed the murders.
“There were people who saw him driving a rental car in Hendersonville when he was supposed to be at the lake,” a deputy who served under Kilpatrick said.
Charles Myers does not think his brother committed the murders or was capable of murder. If someone identified his brother in the car with the victims, why was his brother never arrested?
“He had no previous criminal history,” he said. “He made mistakes and did things he shouldn’t, but not murder.”
Former SBI agent Gary Satterfield said he is aware that Myers was identified by a witness as the third man in the car. But when Satterfield interviewed Hunt, Hunt did not tell him Myers was in the car, he said.
Satterfield does not think Myers was the murderer. Other investigators share this opinion.
“I thought I would never say this, but a cover-up is beginning to sound real good,” Hunt said in a recent interview. “It was Vernon’s car. Frank was in the back. It was on Little River Road. They were heading toward Flat Rock. I asked my fiancee, ‘What is Frank doing with them?’”
The other witness who saw the victims that Sunday disputed the Frank Myers ID.
“That wasn’t Frank in the car,” Hollifield said. “Frank was a good dresser. This guy had on an old-timey suit and was in his 40s.”
FORMER COUNTY SHERIFF EYED PRISON PAROLEE
By Jennie Jones Giles
Sheriff Paul Z. Hill had another suspect, in addition to Frank Myers, early in the investigation; a person who some people claim was hired to kill Vernon Shipman, Charles Glass and Louise Davis Shumate.
Typed notes on stationery with Hill’s letterhead were found, revealing parts of the investigation of John Shadrick.
Shadrick, born in 1943 in Transylvania County, died in 1976 in Charlotte.
From Hill’s reports and information in typed reports from a William Lambert, it is known that Shadrick, 28 at the time, was paroled from the state penitentiary in Raleigh in June 1966. The identity of Lambert is not known. From his reports, he may have been a private investigator.
Shadrick spent Saturday night, the night before the murders, at the Hendersonville Inn with another parolee. Shadrick was blond, about 6 feet 2 inches tall, slim and “given to barbiturates and other stimulants.” In the past, he worked at a restaurant at 629 N. Main St. in Hendersonville.
He had served prison time for forgery of bank notes and for escaping from jail.
In an incident Aug. 13, 1966, Shadrick and another man tried to force a young adult into a homosexual act using a knife and threats, according to the victim’s report to the sheriff.
During the assault, Shadrick told the young man, “I’ve killed three people, I’d just as soon kill you, too,” it is written by the victim.
The young man said that Shadrick admitted to murdering three people at Lake Summit and that Shadrick named them.
The other man with Shadrick “slumped his head over and mumbled three or four times, ‘bumper jacks,’” the young man wrote in the report. “He raised his head and said, ‘the fourth man, that’s where the cops messed up.’”
The two men told the victim about past crimes and prison time. They stole everything from his wallet, he reported. The young man escaped and reported the incident to Hendersonville Police.
After the charge of assault with deadly weapon was reduced in court to simple assault, a judge released Shadrick on a suspended sentence.
Sheriff Hill was trying to keep Shadrick in jail until he could make the murder case, but he was let go on a lesser charge, said WNC Tribune editor John Sholar in a typed report sent to the Associated Press in Raleigh.
Shadrick told investigators that he and a friend had a pint each and a “dozen goof balls,” which is a mixture of cocaine and heroin, Sunday afternoon July 17. Buncombe County officers said that each time Shadrick was questioned he knew his legal rights well.
Lambert’s investigative report was written July 2, 1967. The report states that prior to the weekend of the murder, Shadrick and another man were staying at the Bel Aire Hotel, 58 1/2 College St., Asheville, using the names Junior McCraw and Joe Edwards.
While in Asheville at the hotel, a “well-dressed, dignified man approached the room clerk and asked for Shadrick by his alias, McCraw. The three left the hotel together.”
The late Ed Stanton, a private investigator from Miami, was president of the Florida Investigators Association. He was reportedly instrumental in the conviction of three thieves in the Star of India jewel theft from the Museum of Natural History in New York City a few years before the triple murder.
Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Medford, who was a young deputy at the time of the murders, said Stanton was hired by Hill and Buncombe County Sheriff Harry Clay.
“He was friends with Clay,” Medford said. “He worked on the case three to four months out of Buncombe County’s office. He was deputized in Buncombe just to work on the case.”
On Dec. 18, 1966, Sholar told the Associated Press in Raleigh that he had contacted Stanton. Stanton said he believed Shadrick was the murderer.
PHONE CALL TROUBLES EX-REPORTER FOR 40 YEARS
By Jennie Jones Giles
A known gay acquaintance of Vernon Shipman and Charles Glass is considered a suspect by some people.
The late Jim Burroughs, who lived in Hendersonville, was “a known homosexual acquaintance of Shipman and Glass,” retired Hendersonville Police Chief Bill Powers said.
Burroughs confessed to the murder of Shipman, Glass and Louise Davis Shumate to John Sholar, editor of the WNC Tribune, Powers said.
Burroughs was an obituary writer for the Asheville Citizen-Times until shortly before the murders, said Lewis Green, a former reporter for the newspaper.
“He kept coming in smelling of alcohol and they fired him a week before the murders,” Green said.
Sometime between July 18 and 22, Burroughs called Green at the newspaper office in Asheville and said he was giving Green a news tip.
“There are three prominent people missing,” Burroughs told Green.
Burroughs was drunk and Green did not give credence to the tip. Then the bodies were discovered July 22.
Green said in a recent interview that he has been troubled about this conversation with Burroughs for 40 years.
“Everyone knew Shipman and Glass were missing, but no one was tying in Shumate missing with them,” he said. “How did Burroughs know there were three people missing before the bodies were found? That’s what’s bothered me all these years.”
Powers said in a recent interview that there was no evidence against Burroughs.
Most people interviewed who knew Burroughs do not think he was capable of murder.
SENSATIONAL MURDER CASE PLAYS INTO 1955 SHERIFF’S RACE
By Jennie Jones Giles
The investigation into the murders of Charles Glass, Vernon Shipman and Louise Davis Shumate faced problems from the start.
Contamination of the crime scene, reluctance of friends of the victims to talk, the fear gay men had of being named in the investigation, the lack of training and technology by law enforcement and the mysterious life of Shumate – these problems compounded the case during an election year.
Barely four months after the brutal triple slayings, Sheriff Paul Z. Hill became the only Republican candidate in the November election to lose a race in Henderson County. Hill was sheriff two terms. He was defeated by Democrat James Kilpatrick.
From newspaper stories written in the fall of 1966 in the Times-News and the WNC Tribune, the unsolved murders were the main issue in the race for sheriff.
A murder confession
When Kilpatrick took office in January 1967, he and his chief deputy, Neal Grissom, began their search for the murderer.
In the spring of 1967, Kilpatrick made an arrest based on a confession by Joe Henry Parham, 33, in Florida. Parham gave his addresses as Hendersonville and Fort Myers, Fla.
Parham, 32, was arrested in Fort Myers in January 1967 on several charges, including possession of burglary tools. While in jail, he confessed to the triple murders in Henderson County. Florida authorities contacted Kilpatrick.
“The first time he (Kilpatrick) went to Florida to talk with Parham,” Grissom said. “Parham signed a confession, so they had to bring him up.”
After bringing Parham here in March 1967 and charging him with the murders, it was discovered after a thorough check was made by investigators that he could not have been the murderer. He had been incarcerated at the time of the murders in another state.
He was released in time to work the summer in the gladiolus fields in Mills River.
By being extradited to Henderson County for murder, Parham escaped prosecution for the lesser crimes in Florida, and he got a free ride back to the county, where he typically worked in the summers as an agricultural laborer.
The incident caused a rift between Kilpatrick and Buncombe County Sheriff Harry Clay, who was assisting in the investigation.
Clay had begun working with former Sheriff Hill early in the investigation, trying to trace connections between Shumate and the movements of Shipman and Glass in Buncombe County.
News coverage reflected the friction between Clay and the new sheriff.
“All we know is that he has signed a confession, and we certainly can’t ignore it,” Kilpatrick said in a March 1967 interview with the Times-News.
“Parham could not possibly have committed the murders,” Clay said.
“If Sheriff Clay has information that would result in the arrest of guilty parties, we would appreciate his sharing the secret with us,” Kilpatrick responded.
At the end of Kilpatrick’s four-year term, the murders were still unsolved. Kilpatrick lost his re-election bid to Republican Ab Jackson in November 1970. The triple slayings were again an issue in the election.
As late as the early 1990s, another man confessed to the murders, for the third time.
James Charles Barfield was arrested for murder in Broward County, Fla., in 1990. He told Florida authorities that he killed three people in Henderson County in 1966. This was the third time he confessed to the murders. His first confession was in 1972 to Florida authorities and a second was given to prison guards in 1973 in Florida.
Barfield was arrested in April and May 1966 for burglary in Florida, according to records. He was sentenced to a six-month prison term.
“He should have been in jail serving his six-month sentence at the time of the murders,” said Hendersonville Police Capt. John Nicholson.
Further checks would be needed with Florida prison records to determine if Barfield served the full six-month sentence.
Barfield later told investigators he learned of the murders from a man he was serving time with, Michael Joseph Lawrence.
No one knows anything about Lawrence. Agents who served on the SBI’s unsolved case team said in a recent interview that, to their knowledge, no investigation was ever conducted of Lawrence, who would have been 30 at the time of the murders. He died in 1990.
SOME SAY FLAT ROCK COTTAGES WERE THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
By Jennie Jones Giles
The bodies of Vernon Shipman, Charles Glass and Louise Davis Shumate were found in a clearing near Lake Summit.
Were they killed at this site?
Forty years after the murders, no one knows for certain.
One persistent theory, which leads to a hodgepodge of possible suspects, places the murders at cottages in Flat Rock.
Bring up the subject of the murders today, as in 1966, and person after person will say the murders happened at the former Cheves Cottages on the Greenville Highway. Today’s location, at 1614 Greenville Highway, has a few brick cottages remaining. In 1966, there was a large two-story house, with smaller white, wooden cottages lining the drive to the house.
“It was mentioned frequently,” said retired Hendersonville Police Chief Bill Powers.
More than one person over the past 40 years has confessed to transporting the bodies from the cottages to the site where they were found.
One of these people was Donnie Case.
During Sheriff Jim Kilpatrick’s administration, chief detective Neal Grissom flew to California to interview Case. Case returned to Hendersonville and gave a written confession, saying he transported the bodies, on condition of immunity from prosecution. He returned to California.
“He swore he did not place them in the way they were found,” said a friend of Case. “Donnie said he was paid through a post office box. He was so scared he moved to California.”
“There was an interview with a gay guy who drove a truck,” said retired Buncombe County deputy John Harrison. “He said he carried the bodies to a truck, covered them with a bedspread.”
Harrison did not remember the man’s name, but said he read his statement. The man later died in a car accident.
“I was told that a station wagon was used to haul the bodies to Lake Summit,” said Ronnie Hollifield, circulation manager of the Times-News in 1966 and a witness who saw the victims on Evans Road the day of the murders.
“The Cheves’ crowd would keep telling different stories,” Grissom said. “It was just a bad place.”
Several people reported there was blood at Cheves Cottages in either the big house or one of the cottages. All reports of this blood vary as to where the blood was seen and when it was seen.
“I know they (people in community) found blood in the floor of the big house,” Hollifield said. “It wasn’t one of the cottages, it was the big house.”
The late Jimmy Justice, who stayed at the cottages often and frequented parties there, told Hollifield he saw the blood in the “big house.”
Kilpatrick collected samples from the big house to test floors and walls for blood in 1967, several months after the July 1966 murders.
Deputies took scrapings off the walls and floors, Harrison said. The scrapings came from a living room, left front bedroom, kitchen, stairway casements, stairway hall area, floor in the rear bedroom and hallway between the kitchen and den.
The tests performed by the SBI lab found no trace of human blood or human tissue.
At the time of the murders, the cottages were owned by Frank Cheves and his second wife, Freida Gibbs McGraw Cheves.
It was known as a place where men would meet women and a site of boisterous parties, with lots of alcohol served.
Several investigators completely dismiss the cottages as the site of the murder.
“I think they were killed where they were found,” said former SBI agent Gary Satterfield.
Satterfield said he did not help Kilpatrick take samples from the house. He only accepted them from Grissom and sent them to the laboratory in Raleigh.
“I did not take part in getting those samples,” Grissom said. “I just sent them to the SBI. I think the murders were done where the bodies were found.”
On March 29, 1968, the cottages were prominently displayed on the front page of the Times-News.
Freida Cheves, operator of the cottages, appeared in court on a charge of operating a disorderly house. Five persons, including a 16-year-old girl, were arrested in connection with the operation of a “house of ill repute.”
Numerous people who frequented the cottages were interviewed from 1966 through Kilpatrick’s administration.
Every person told a different story.
ONE OF THE SUSPECTS GREW UP WITH SHIPMAN
By Jennie Jones Giles
Of all the suspects investigated, only one is possibly still living.
The SBI and Sheriff Paul Hill began the investigation into a chiropractor who grew up in the house next door to Vernon Shipman. The investigation continued into the term of Sheriff James Kilpatrick. To this day, he is still a strong suspect in the opinion of some investigators.
Shipman and the man next door were friends as youth. The family had owned the home next door to the Shipmans since 1926.
The friendship continued into adulthood. The family living next door to Shipman moved out-of-state and rented the house.
From interviews by investigators in 1966-67, the owner of the house discovered the rental payments were not being given to the bank to pay off the mortgage. The chiropractor accused Charles Glass of pocketing the money.
In November 1965, an employee of the Tempo Music Shop overheard a heated argument between this man and Glass. The man “was mad at Glass because he had taken the rent money,” the witness said.
The man accused Glass of pocketing the rental cash instead of putting “the money away like he said he would.”
In May 1966, the chiropractor attempted suicide with a gun, according to Indianapolis police reports.
Mildred Banther offered to buy the house in June 1966. The owner said he would be in Hendersonville in 30 days and they would talk then. She told him she was going on vacation July 4 and hoped he would wait until she returned. After the bodies were discovered, she called the chiropractor to tell him Shipman was dead.
She told investigators the man cried. She asked if he wanted her to send him newspapers and he said no. He said he needed to go and he never called her back.
The 40-year-old man saw his last patient July 14, 1966, and his next appointment was 12:30 p.m. July 18, 1966.
After the triple slayings, the house went into foreclosure. It was sold Nov. 7, 1966, on the steps of the Henderson County Courthouse. The woman who bought the house found a frog gigging pole in the house with one tine broken off. She turned it into Sheriff Kilpatrick in February 1967.
The SBI crime lab tested the frog gig and found blood, but, with the technology available at the time, could not determine if it was human or amphibian. “The frog gig could possibly have been the instrument used in the perforations of the victims’ bodies,” the report says.
Indianapolis police conducted an interview with the suspect and his estranged wife. The chiropractor could not account for his time the weekend of the murders.
He and his wife were not living together at the time of the triple murders. His estranged wife told investigators that he was mad enough to have committed the murders.
The police set up a polygraph test for the man. At the appointed time for the test, his lawyer came and said his client would not take the test.
“Every time they set him up to take the polygraph he didn’t show,” said Gene Jarvis of the Asheville Police Department, which was also investigating the murders.
“He never returned to Hendersonville,” said retired Hendersonville Police Chief Bill Powers.
OUTLAW’S CRIME SPREE HAD STRONG SIMILARITIES
By Jennie Jones Giles
One of the top suspects in the triple murder was a violent felon who terrorized Henderson County in 1968 and became the last person in the history of North Carolina to be declared an outlaw.
Edward Thompson Jr. went on a crime spree in Western North Carolina and Virginia, kidnapping and raping and ultimately killing before he was apprehended. His rampage began in Henderson County.
By the end of his crime spree, he had kidnapped 11 people, raped five and killed two. He received five consecutive life sentences, plus 20 years. He died in the state penitentiary in 1989.
“The murder was committed by Thompson,” declared retired Hendersonville Police Chief Bill Powers.
Powers’ opinion receives a strong back up from Neal Grissom, chief deputy under Sheriff James Kilpatrick, and retired SBI agent Charles Chambers, who took over the triple murder investigation from agent Gary Satterfield.
“He was mean, very moody,” Grissom said. “I don’t have one doubt in my mind he’s the guy who did it.”
Powers, Chambers and Grissom say there are at least 20 points of similarity between Thompson’s crimes and the triple murders in July 1966. Thompson would have been 36 at the time of the triple murders.
Two witnesses saw Shipman and Glass and the female victim riding around Sunday afternoon within a few hours of the murders. Neither identified the third man as black, although police say Thompson was lighter skinned with reddish hair.
Chief Deputy Grissom went to Virginia where Thompson had killed a man and woman with a gun and kidnapped three girls, ages 14 to 17. This was the end of his crime spree. After killing the man and woman in Virginia, he took the three girls on a several-day run back into North Carolina and was finally apprehended near Greensboro.
A matching pattern?
Points of similarity:
1. Murdered man’s body was fully clothed. Woman’s clothes in disarray.
2. Rubber hose was draped over murdered woman’s shoulders (object placed on bodies).
3. “I have a gun. I’ve already killed three people,” Thompson told a couple he kidnapped in Henderson County. “Two more won’t make a difference.”
4. After the kidnappings, he always brought the car back to near where the crime started.
5. Always left the keys in the ignition.
6. Liked to command abducted people to drive him around.
7. Always had the driver place both hands on the steering wheel. (Ronnie Hollifield, a witness who passed the Shipman car the day of the murders, said this was true of Shipman. Shipman did not wave or acknowledge him that Sunday.)
8. Placed the victims on their backs.
9. Women always seemed to get the more brutal treatment.
10. He committed sexual violence against men and women.
11. He never left signs of a struggle where victims were found or where they were raped.
13. He was accused in another county of killing a man in 1947 with an iron pipe with blows to the head. Thompson was not found guilty of this murder. Shipman, Glass and Shumate died of head trauma from beating with blunt object.
14. Thompson was more active on Sunday than any other day.
15. Most of his crimes occurred between May and July.
16. Grissom thinks Thompson was trying to find the triple murder scene after he kidnapped one of the couples in Henderson County in 1968. “He was trying to go back to the spot. He went back twice looking for the road.”
17. He kidnapped people randomly and unexpectedly.
18. Wore dark sunglasses.
19. Asked Deputy Grissom once what was going on with the triple murder investigation.
20. Climax of his crime spree was almost two years to the day from July 17, 1966. He kidnapped and murdered July 15-16, 1968, in Virginia.
From the time Powers and Chambers visited him in prison shortly after his sentencing, no investigator ever attempted to talk with Thompson about the triple slaying.
SBI’S NEW PROBE IN 1989 DEALT A SETBACK
By Jennie Jones Giles
In 1989, a team of SBI agents began investigating unsolved murders in Western North Carolina. They looked at the 1966 triple murder of Vernon Shipman, Charles Glass and Louise Davis Shumate.
Two of those agents and Gary Satterfield, SBI investigator at the time of the murders, say a potential suspect was Harold Dean Hood. Hood died in 1973 in Georgia.
“Once I looked through the file, I contacted Satterfield,” said former SBI agent Steve Miller. “Satterfield was looking seriously at Hood. Once I found out he was deceased, we didn’t look any further. In the latter stages of Satterfield’s work, that was the primary suspect Gary was looking at.”
“The main person we needed to focus on was dead,” said Ned Whitmire, a retired SBI agent and current Henderson County Sheriff’s Department detective.
Miller said the SBI report exonerated almost all the suspects.
“There were only a couple left, (a chiropractor) and Hood,” Miller said.
Hood was bisexual and was investigated while serving in the Air Force for “consorting with homosexuals.”
Hood had a record of car theft and was accused of kidnapping a gay man in Asheville in June 1967. The man and Hood knew each other and were drinking together.
During the afternoon, the friend made a remark that infuriated Hood. He tied him up with towels and put him in the car.
“Hood took a knife out, cut his hand, and let the drops drip on the victim’s face,” Miller said.
Hood left the man near the site where the bodies of Shumate, Glass and Shipman were found near Lake Summit in 1966, Miller said.
The written statements given by the man are not clear as to where Hood left him, with his hands tied with towels and his feet tied with his belt. The man untied himself and told authorities of the kidnapping.
Hood stole his friend’s money and left the state with a woman in the victim’s car. He was found in Baltimore, Md., where the woman’s family lived, and brought back by SBI agent Satterfield for questioning.
He denied any involvement in the triple murders and told investigators he only knew Glass from a party he attended in 1962.
Satterfield said Hood was interrogated, but never confessed to the murders.
“I had to let him go,” Satterfield said. “He refused a polygraph. I couldn’t charge him with anything.”
As a youth, Hood lived on Pot Shoals Road, near the site of the crime scene.
Hood’s probation officer in Buncombe County said, “Hood was one of the most dangerous people he had ever supervised,” Miller said.
Hood was living with a woman in Asheville and he was a prostitute for homosexuals, agent Satterfield said.
Satterfield said Hood lived off lonely women and gays and he believes Hood knew Shumate.
“I think she was with Dean Hood and they ran up on Shipman and Glass or met those two guys,” he said.
“Because we think he is the primary suspect that in no way reflects ultimate guilt,” Miller said. “That would be up to a jury to decide.”