Grand Jury indicts suspect in double murder case - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Grand Jury indicts suspect in double murder case

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William Murphy (Photo courtesy of the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office) William Murphy (Photo courtesy of the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office)
Jeanie and Mark Secreast were murdered in their home on November 29, 1990. Jeanie and Mark Secreast were murdered in their home on November 29, 1990.
Lenoir, NC -

By Jeff Rivenbark - email & Steve Ohnesorge - bio l email

CALDWELL COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A man accused in a double murder case in Caldwell County from 1990 now faces a grand jury indictment in the case.

The Grand Jury returned two indictments for first-degree murder against 50-year-old William Eugene Murphy. 

He is charged with the deaths of Mark Secreast, 29, and his wife, Jeanie Secreast, 27. 

Murphy's next court appearance will be May 3 and he will be represented by veteran defense attorney Lisa Dubs.

The Secreasts were found shot to death inside their Lenoir home on Wilkesboro Boulevard on November 29, 1990, but Murphy was just charged with their murders on Thursday, April 1.

On Monday, April 5, Jeanie Secreast's father, aunt and a cousin watched as Murphy stood before a judge as the charges were read against him.

"It was hard to sit there and not say anything out loud," said Judy Gillespie who is a cousin of Jeanie Secreast.

Gillespie said some family members thought Murphy was involved in the murders, but they never expected an arrest to be made in the case.

She cried as she talked about her cousin and what happened in 1990.

"Her and Mark were perfect together and were soul mates and didn't deserve this brutal murder," Gillespie said.

"It really hurts and while God says forgive, I don't know if I ever can," Gillespie added.

Jeanie Secreast's aunt, Ann Anderson, said if Murphy is found guilty of the murders, "Then, he is not fit to live."

The victim's father said he hoped the right man has been arrested for the murders and added, "If he did it, I hope they find him guilty." 

It has not been determined if the state will seek the death penalty against Murphy. 

As Murphy was led away following his first court appearance, he was asked if he had committed the murders and his only response was to shake his head no.

In the days following the murders, investigators were unable to find the killer, but the sheriff's office said detectives never stopped investigating.

Elizabeth Harven was just 10 years old when the Secreasts were killed, but she has never forgotten how she felt when she heard the tragic news about the deaths of her aunt and uncle.

"I can't believe it's been 20 years since they have been gone," Harven said.

The young couple's lives were cut short just after Thanksgiving in 1990.

"I started crying when I got the phone call," the Mike Secreast, the victim's brother. 

Mark and Jeanie Secreast had already purchased Christmas presents in which the family received a month later.

Murphy was locked up at the Caldwell County Jail on charges of assault and carrying a concealed weapon in late March.  A short time later, the sheriff's office received a tip about the Secreast murders. 

"As long as I've been here, there's been tips that have come in, but nothing to develop like this," said Capt. Brian Bennett with the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office.

As for the tip and who called it in, Sheriff Alan Jones said, "It took a lot of courage for them to come forward."

Murphy was actually a friend of Mark and Jeanie Secreast.  In fact, he was a pallbearer at the funeral. 

Sheriff Alan Jones would not discuss the evidence which led to Murphy's arrest.

"I will tell you that the evidence in this case includes scientific evidence that has been analyzed and corroborated by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation," Jones said.  "It is my hope that by this arrest the Secreast family will have the answers to the questions that they have carried for so many years, and that they will finally be able to be at peace."

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