Investigators

Halifax County family waiting, hoping for justice 35 years later

WELDON, N.C. (WNCN) - Next week will mark a somber anniversary for one Halifax family. It’s been 35 years since Susan Clary was murdered. The young wife was eight months pregnant.

“I often think it contributed to her daddy's death,” said Susan’s cousin Sammy Shearin.

Clary’s family has waited for justice for more than three decades. She was just 20 years old when she was murdered. 

“Even till the day that her momma, whose name was Maurice, died, I mean, she carried that burden with her everywhere,” Shearin said.

Shearin is one of the only remaining family members. At Maurice’s request, he’s taken up the case, working with investigators to push for answers. 

“Jovial. Everybody that I knew that knew her always talked about how happy she seemed to be. The joy that she shared,” Shearin said.

Susan worked for the town as the tax collector.

When she didn't show up for work back on the morning of May 16, 1983, her father went to her home to check on her.

Authorities said her father found the back door of her Weldon home open, and Susan’s body in the front bedroom.

She was naked, a bra wrapped around her neck and her temple bruised.

Chief Deputy Bruce Temple worked the case. He’s since retired from the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office.

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“There were two guns placed on top of dressers and previous to that they'd been hidden,” Temple said. “The bed was moved out of place. A foot stool, a rather large one was moved out of place,” he continued.

Temple said the guns hadn’t been fired and the bra had nothing to do with the murder. He believes the crime scene was staged.

Temple said they ruled out robbery and sexual assault as motives. Then there was the couple’s guard dog. 

“If anything out of the ordinary were to happen, the dog was known to be excessively loud and aggressive,” Temple said.

Temple said the dog didn’t bark that morning.

The cause of death was ruled asphyxiation. Temple said it may have been an accident. 

“I've been doing this for 33 years. Some cases just stay with you. They haunt you and this would be one of those cases,” Sheriff Wes Tripp with the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office said.

Tripp said it’s personal. He knew Susan back in high school. They worked in the same restaurant together. That’s why he continues to post the case on Facebook once a month, hoping someone may remember something.

Susan’s husband, Tim Clary, told investigators he’d left the house early on the morning of the murder to help his father. 

“I would really like to see her husband be more cooperative because he might, could help us put this case to an end,” Shearin said.

Tripp said he believes the case can be solved.

His office continues to work the case optimistic that one day they’ll be able to give Susan’s family the closure they’ve been waiting for. 

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