SEVEN SPRINGS, N.C. (WNCN) – Twenty-four years to the day after his son-in-law died, a Wayne County man confessed to the murder.
Sheriff Larry Pierce said 74-year-old Allen Deaver told detectives on February 7 that he killed Sidney Maurice Gregory on February 7, 1993. After two months of investigation to verify Deaver’s initial statements to deputies with the Livington Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana, prosecutors filed murder charges this week.
“This is a great feeling and we do appreciate all of the participation from the Livingston Parish Louisiana authorities. They helped us tremendously. They were the key,” Pierce said.
“Homicides are never closed until they’re solved, so we’re always actively looking for that piece of the puzzle.”
Investigators said Deaver recently had health issues, which they believe may have led to his confession.
“I don’t know if he wanted to try to make things right before he met his maker, or what it was, but I think his conscience was bothering him,” Major Tom Effler said.
Sonny Kilpatrick said he will never forget February 7, 1993. He was chief of the Pricetown Volunteer Fire Department at the time, and responded to a 911 call about flames at the house.
Kilpatrick said Gregory’s wife told firefighters she thought he was inside the home and probably in the living room.
“He was actually in his bed, in his bedroom. It was a pretty gruesome sight. We knew he was there a long time before we found him, just because of the smell. It was not pleasant,” Kilpatrick said.
He and the other firefighters smelled a strong odor of kerosene and found a kerosene fuel can near the bed. Kilpatrick said it was clear someone murdered Gregory, but after a couple of years went by without any arrests, he didn’t think deputies would ever catch the killer.
A medical examiner determined Gregory died from blunt force trauma before the fire began.
Effler said investigators questioned Deaver and his wife, who lived next door to Gregory and their daughter, but they did not cooperate. The Deavers left Wayne County within a few months of the fire.
“It looked like he might be a little guilty because he left the scene. He moved away and stayed away for a long time, but nobody really knew for sure,” Kilpatrick said.
Kilpatrick said he had several conversations with Deaver in all the years since the fire, but they never talked about it. While he is not surprised by who the culprit ended up being, the confession surprised him.
“I’m amazed. I don’t know why. I don’t think he felt guilty about it,” he said.
“I didn’t think he was torn up or guilt ridden or anything like that.”
Sheriff Pierce said it is unusual for a confession to happen after this length of time. He is glad Deaver came forward with the information, and said it is unlikely this could would ever be solved without the admission of guilt.
Major Effler said it is good to get closure in this case. However, he said it brought up a lot of difficult memories for the victim’s family, especially due to their connection to the suspect.
Deaver will be moved to the Wayne County Jail from the Livingston Parish Jail in Louisiana sometime in the next few days.
Wayne County deputies are currently working on another cold case murder which dates back to the 1970s.