2 dismembered bodies were found burned in Rutherford County, Sheriff says

North Carolina news

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) – The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office said the remains of two dismembered bodies found Monday were burned.

Deputies responded to a call just before 2:30 p.m. in the 400 block of Morningstar Lake Road in Forest City on Monday.

“We’re dealing with a burn pile, and I don’t know how many hours that burn pile had been active. It was smoldering when we got there, on Monday,” Sheriff Chris Francis said. “So, we located what we believe were the remains of these two victims, what was left.”

The two victims, believed to be 44-year-old Jason VanDyke and 42-year-old Tracy McKinney, were found burning.

VanDyke’s roommate, 34-year-old Matthew Cooley, is charged with murder, four counts of hiding a body and failing to report a death. Sheriff Francis said the guilty party is no stranger to law enforcement.

“I’m very familiar with Matthew Thomas Cooley. He’s 34-years-old and he’s spent a lot of his adult life in prison,” Francis said.

Francis said Cooley served time for drugs and larceny. He also said the sheriff’s office has reason to believe Cooley is responsible for Vandyke’s murder, but they’re still investigating McKinney’s.

The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it isn’t looking for any other suspects at this time. However, it did not say why Cooley was the only suspect.

“We are just trying to make sure that we have all the pertinent information to take to the District Attorney’s office and if there will be any future charges,” Francis said.

He wants everyone in the neighborhood to know that they believe this was an isolated incident.

Francis said they’re still conducting interviews and the autopsies are scheduled for Thursday. He said however it will take a while to get the results back because of dealing with partial remains.

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