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LENOIR, NC (WBTV) – Three Caldwell County men went before a judge on Monday for their first court appearance on charges related to the murder of two people whose bodies were found in a burned vehicle Friday afternoon in Rhodhiss. "I didn't do nothing, "said Justin Hester who is charged with first degree murder. "It's a misunderstanding," he said as he was led into the courthouse.
Dylan Teeters who is charged as an accessory after the fact and Matthew Powell who faces the same charge both denied being involved with the incident. "No" said Powell emphatically as he was taken in handcuffs into the courthouse.
Sheriff Alan Jones would not speculate as to the motive in the case but says the investigation is not over and "We'll be at this awhile." Autopsy results are in yet and there has not been a positive identification, though authorities believe they know who the victims are.
Floyd Carter came to see the suspects in the courtroom because he believes one of the victims is his 19 year old daughter Harley. "I'm so devastated I don't know what I'm gonna do," he said. "This thing has left a hole in my heart." Carter believes the other victim with his daughter was her boyfriend Kevin Shatley.
Ashley Hilton said she was a close friend of Shatley and may have been one of the last to see the couple alive. Hilton said she saw the two early Friday morning and said "Kevin told me they were going to see Justin about some of that money that was owed to them and that they would be right back." Hilton said Kevin was referring to Justin Hester. Family members say they believe Harley had loaned Hester thousand dollars from an accident settlement she had received and wanted the money back. After the couple left to meet Justin, said Hilton, "They never came back."
Authorities believe the murders happened in a pull off along Dudley Shoals Road and that the car and bodies were then moved several miles away to Rhodhiss. The car was discovered down Duke Power Road. It had been burned using an accelerant, said detectives.
The three suspects in the case are being held without bond. A probable cause hearing is scheduled for each suspect later this month.