RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A cyclist who died after being assaulted on a Raleigh greenway trail over a year ago was stabbed and beaten so badly that he had to be identified by dental records, according to an autopsy obtained by CBS 17 on Monday.
Chauncey “Chip” Weinkoop Depew, Jr., was found badly hurt along the Walnut Creek Trail near the interchange of S. Saunders Street and Interstate 40 around noon on Aug. 20, 2020, police said at the time.
Raleigh police said someone attacked Depew as he was riding his Kona Trail Bike.
Neighbors were shocked.
“It’s terrifying that happened right here so close on a trail that’s frequented by families,” neighbor Falon Foreman, who often goes to the trail with her daughters, told CBS 17 last year. “We will no longer be taking that trail. We’re definitely going to stick to the neighborhood and if we do take the trail, we’ll take the one on the other side of the neighborhood.”
According to the autopsy, Depew was found in a tunnel on the Walnut Creek Trail by a passing cyclist. A helmet, one shoe, and the Kona Trail Bike were found near the victim.
“Emergency rescue personnel responded to find him covered with blood and emergently transported
him to the hospital,” according to the autopsy. Depew’s “mental status deteriorated” on the ride to the hospital and he got to the emergency room in cardiac arrest with resuscitation in progress.
Resuscitation was not successful and Depew was pronounced dead at 1:09 p.m.
According to the medical examiner, Depew suffered “multiple sharp force wounds of [the back of his] neck and head,” as well as “deep penetrating stab wounds with associated vascular transection at [the] left neck, and blunt force trauma of the head, torso and extremities.”
The autopsy showed “multiple penetrating stab wounds of the head and neck, with several terminating at the cervical spine” and an artery was cut in his neck.
Depew was initially transported to the hospital as an unidentified person and his identity could not be confirmed until the medical examiner compared dental records from before and after he was killed, the autopsy showed.
A day after Depew was killed, his family released a statement to the media saying that he was an avid sportsman and had just become a grandfather.
“He found peace in solitude, keeping mostly to himself and his immediate family. In sum, he lived a quiet and uncomplicated life,” the statement said. “For these reasons, our family is unable to comprehend this random act of violence in the town we have called home for nearly 30 years.”
Depew’s family is asking for anyone with information on the assault to contact the Raleigh Police Department at (919) 834-4357.
“Please help us keep our city safe and assist in preventing this senseless violence from occurring again,” they said in the statement.
Depew’s family held a memorial bike ride that drew more than 130 cyclists just nine days after his death.
His son, Chauncey Depew III, spoke to the crowd before they took off for the ride, thanking them for their support. He told CBS 17 that he was shocked that something like this could happen in a place like Raleigh.
“Growing up in Raleigh for 30-plus years, I never thought something like this could happen, especially on a greenway,” Depew said of what happened to his father. “He was one of those guys you could just lean on, who always tried to be respectful of everybody, and tried to leave the world better than he found it.”
Organizers said the route for the six-mile memorial ride was the same one Depew would take four to five times a week.
His son led the pack on his dad’s bike.
“It’s just cool to kind of step in his shoes, so-to-speak,” Depew said of using his father’s bike for the memorial ride. “We have a couple spots identified to kind of pay our respects — Lake Raleigh being one of them, where he loved to kayak, and then where everything happened as well.”
Depew’s neighbors described him as a “super nice guy,” saying he’d frequently chat with them and recently shared the news of his new grandchild.
“He was ecstatic about it. He was so happy,” Judd Price told CBS 17 in August 2020.
Price’s roommate William Domville says Depew talked about his rides along the Greenway and went cycling almost every day.
“I saw him yesterday morning actually pumping up his bike tires. It looked like he was getting ready to go for a ride,” Domville said at the time.
Cody Stokes, who was president of Raleigh bike advocacy group Oaks & Spokes at the time, told CBS 17 last year that the attack was tragic.
“It’s not often we hear about someone being attacked on the greenway. I do hope that for the victim’s family that the person is discovered, and they are brought to justice,” Stokes said.
Stokes said the case is an important reminder about safety, especially when riding alone. He advised riders have a “safety net” in case something goes wrong like a crash, mechanical failure or medical emergency. He recommended using apps like Strava’s Beacon which lets cyclists or runners send texts with a GPS link to contacts during their run or ride.
As a result of the attack, city crews inspected the lights in the S. Saunders Street tunnel. A city spokesperson said the lights were operational and are on constantly. Crews added supplemental lighting as well.
Police have not released any information on possible suspects. CBS 17 reached out to Raleigh police for an update on the case and was told the killing is still under investigation and there are no updates.
Police are asking that if you have any information that might be helpful in any way to contact them at (919) 834-4357.