Homeless man arrested in 1972 Johnston County cold case murder

Johnston County News

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) – A 65-year-old man living on the streets of Florida has been arrested in the 1972 murder of a woman at a Johnston County migrant camp, Sheriff Steve Bizzell announced Tuesday. 

Bonnie Neighbors was killed Dec. 14, 1972 while she held her son in her arms, Bizzell said. 

Her body was found Dec. 17, 1972 bound and shot twice at a migrant camp with her son still alive next to her body. 

Larry Joe Scott, 65, who at one time lived in Benson, has been charged with first-degree murder in Neighbors’ death, Bizzell said. 

Scott was living on the streets of Bradenton, Florida at the time of his arrest. 

Scott is being held in Florida as he awaits extradition.

“Justice has been far too delayed,” Bizzell said.  

The sheriff said he was able to look at Neighbor’s son in the eyes and tell him his mother’s killer had been arrested. 

“We have found your mother’s murderer,” Bizzell told the son. 

Bizzell said Scott did not know Neighbors at the time of the murder. 

Bizzell reopened case in 2007 and despite Scott’s arrest, the investigation is ongoing. 

DNA was used to identify Scott as the suspect. 

Attorney General Josh Stein said District Attorney Susan Doyle never gave up in her pursuit of justice in Neighbors’ murder. 

“For 47 years many thought this day would never come. but this day has come,” Doyle said. 

Stein pointed out the importance of DNA testing to help solve cold cases. 

“Today’s news serves as an important and encouraging reminder that DNA can breathe new life into cold case,” Stein said. 

CBS 17 will update this story as it develops. 

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