Family of woman murdered in Iredell Co. in 1983 fights to keep killer in prison

Kim Goodman was stabbed to death after neighbor caught watching her sunbathe
Kim Goodman was stabbed to death after neighbor caught watching her sunbathe
Published: Nov. 21, 2023 at 1:33 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2023 at 5:21 PM EST
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IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - It’s the toughest fight yet for a family trying to keep a convicted killer in prison.

Kim Goodman, 20, was stabbed to death by her 14-year-old neighbor, Brett Abrams, in July of 1983 after he was caught peeping at her while she was getting some sun on the deck of her home in the Brookview community in Mooresville.

Angry at being caught peeping at Goodman for a second time, Abrams stabbed her 17 times. After killing her, Abrams called Kim’s mother on the phone.

“He called the hospital (where Peggy worked) and said I needed to come home, ‘That something bad happened at your house,’ " Kim’s mother, Peggy Goodman Riley, said.

Prosecuted as an adult, Abrams, now 55, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on May 22, 1984, and was sentenced to life in prison. Under sentencing laws at the time, life in prison was defined as 40 years to life.

Abrams was first eligible for parole in 1993 but has been denied each time it came up.

Goodman’s family collected 40,000 signatures on a petition opposing the release the first time he was eligible for parole, and then in 2004, they collected more than 65,000 signatures.

“We give them in great detail what he did and that’s why he was sentenced as an adult because he stabbed Kim 17 times and he’s never shown any remorse to the family. Never requested any conversation with us. That’s never taken place,” Goodman Riley said.

In 2020, the family had to meet with the parole commission by phone due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Parole was again denied.

“It’s a little different this time with him coming up for parole,” said Peggy Goodman Riley. “It’s a real concern for our family at this point in time. He was sentenced as an adult because of the magnitude of the crime that he committed. We have not changed our minds in the fact that he is paroled we feel very strongly that he will kill again.”

Now the family of Kim Goodman is unsure of what is happening with the process involving Abrams. He was up for parole most recently in 2022, but the family says it has not heard anything about the result.

Abrams is currently serving his time in a minimum-security prison in Orange County and has been permitted to be on work release. He has had 11 infractions while serving his time, including fighting, provoking assault, and property theft.

Abrams also recently filed a federal lawsuit against the Parole Commission, claiming that the Parole Commission violated his constitutional rights by not giving him a “meaningful opportunity” to get paroled.

Abrams now has legal representation from the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ).

According to a news release, SCSJ is challenging North Carolina’s parole system in federal court on behalf of Abrams, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1983 at the age of 14 for “a senseless and tragic crime he committed.”

For the last 15 years, Abrams has been in minimum custody and on work release, “successfully working in the community for at least 40 hours a week.” He has not had any infraction in 17 years, has received his GED, and has taken advantage of classes, therapeutic opportunities, and community enrichment options, according to the SCSJ.

“The NC Parole Commission is required to provide a meaningful opportunity for people like Brett Abrams, who was 14 years old when he was sent to prison, to demonstrate maturity and rehabilitation, and be seriously considered for parole,” said Jake Sussman, Interim Chief Counsel for Justice System Reform at SCSJ. “That has not happened for Mr. Abrams and others in his situation. We hope this lawsuit will expose this constitutional violation and help fix North Carolina’s broken parole system.”

But family members of Kim Goodman remember the brutal circumstances of the killing, and they say far from being an isolated incident, they believe the murder was the culmination of bad behavior they had witnessed for years.

“The people that are familiar with him and her and our age group and people that were involved at the time, that hasn’t changed, and the feelings are still there and the community involvement is as important as anything we do,” said Kim’s brother Greg Goodman. “This happened in 1983 and you almost have to wonder how many people were saved because he’s been in prison this entire time. Because we don’t know what would have happened if he didn’t go to prison in 1983 for this.”

“The world is a safer place with him in jail, that’s the way I look at it,” Noble Randall, Kim Goodman’s fiancé at the time of her killing, said.

A graduate of South Iredell High School and Mitchell Community College, Goodman was preparing to continue her education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro when she was killed.

Goodman was engaged to be married and planned to return to Mooresville to teach dance after earning her bachelor’s degree, according to her family.

“She was a lovely person and had a heart filled for other people, she was very kind. You don’t ever forget those things, they’re there. That does help you to know what kind of individual she was but at the same time, you we’ve talked before how often we have to go before the parole board,” Goodman Riley said.

Goodman Riley has written a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper to express her opposition to the possible parole of Abrams. An assistant to the governor’s Clemency Administrator replied, saying that her opposition is “noted,” and that the governor does not have the authority to grant or deny parole.

The letter also says that Goodman Riley’s letter to the governor was forwarded to the case analyst for Abrams and that it would be “included in his file for review at the appropriate time.”

For now, the family says it remains in limbo, waiting to hear from officials in Raleigh on the status of Abrams’ quest for parole.

Peggy Goodman Riley and her son Greg urge anyone who opposes Abrams’ release to send their concerns to N.C. Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission, 4222 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4222 or