The mayor of Leggett, North Carolina, and his wife were found slain in their home in the town, which has a population of approximately five dozen, police said Friday after making an arrest in the case.
“We were able to solve this double homicide in less than eight hours,” Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson told reporters at a Friday press conference.
The sheriff said the bodies of 70-year-old Gary Eugene Skelton Sr. and his wife, 66-year-old Jackie Dawn Skelton, were found Thursday morning by deputies in their home on North Carolina Highway 33. They were last seen alive on Wednesday, police said.
Keith Earl Williams, 25, of Tarboro, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. He’s being held at the Edgecombe County Detention Center. A second person is being held on unrelated charges, police said.
Atkinson, who revealed the Skeltons were shot to death, said their bodies were discovered after a welfare check was requested. According to Raleigh’s WRAL News, that request was made by Jackie Skelton’s co-workers at Vidant Oncology on Thursday after she failed to show up for her job as an oncology nurse.
Gary Skelton Sr., a retired banker, was in his second term as mayor of Leggett, which has a population of 55, according to The Charlotte Observer. He and his wife reportedly moved from Georgia roughly 20 years ago. They are survived by three adult sons and several grandchildren.
“They would have given them the shirt off their back,” Teresa Summerlin, a town commissioner, told Raleigh’s WNCN News. “For this to happen in this small a community. The work that man has done for this community. People just don’t realize he has invested so many man hours.”
Atkinson did not reveal a suspected motive for the slayings.
Summerlin told WNCN the Skeltons were last seen alive on Wednesday night, when they went out to dinner with another couple.
“It is unimaginable what they came home to,” she said. “That’s what sickens me to my core — how they must have felt.”