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Store owner hopes to change image of unsolved murder site

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer

“From a bad thing, hopefully we can make it a good thing,” said Thomas Bolen, owner of a new business located where the murder of Charles Daniel Mullinax took place almost two years ago.
Bolen opened Ruby’s Discount Store three months ago at 2083 W. N.C. 150 in Crouse, the site where Mullinax was found shot to death inside his living room.
Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies have said the home, which also doubled as a used-goods business, was burned in order to conceal the homicide, which remains unsolved.
At this time, authorities said there are no new updates or leads in the murder case.
Nonetheless, there is still much curiosity surrounding that particular chapter of the property’s history.
Bolen, a West Virginia native who moved to the area six months ago from Chicago, told the Times-News that many visitors to the store come in and share stories regarding the murder, while others seem a bit hesitant at first.
“No one knew exactly what took place,” Bolen noted of the mystery surrounding the crime.
Though Bolen didn’t know Mullinax, many of his customers did. And he said no one speaks badly of him, with many noting that he was a “real nice guy.”
Bolen moved to Lincoln County after his father passed away and decided to open the store with his mother, Ruby, from whom the store’s name is also derived. His parents used to operate a similar business on Buffalo Shoals Road.
“We looked everywhere,” he said of their search for a suitable location.
At the time, the building had already been remodeled by the owner of the property, with all the damage repaired. However, Bolen said she was completely honest about its history and what had happened.
“I figured we didn’t do it, so it didn’t bother us,” he added.
Now, Bolen hopes to put people’s minds at ease about coming inside his business. With his kids helping out in the store after school, he said he thinks it will help to project a more family-oriented image.

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