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Police explain secrecy surrounding murder case

SBI advised investigators to keep details hidden until trial

JENNA-LEY HARRISON
Staff Writer

While police originally kept tight-lipped about details surrounding this summer’s murder case, involving slain Lincolnton couple Mike and Bonnie Vincent, in order to keep potential witnesses from being “tainted,” investigators say they now are remaining mum on the topic to prevent pretrial publicity.
“There is certain information that only a person committing the crime needs to know,” Lt. Brian Greene, head investigator, told the Times-News Thursday afternoon about why police initially wouldn’t expand on case details with the public. In addition, police took just under a week to charge a suspect in the case, a much longer period of time than previous city homicide cases, in which Greene said officers once apprehended a suspect within hours of locating a body.
Investigators are now concerned that too much deliberation about the shocking double homicide will drum up unnecessary community hype leading up to a potential trial.
The decision to keep details of the case confidential in the case came partially at the request and counsel of the State Bureau of Investigation, Greene said.
“They advised us to release as little information as possible,” he said.
Wilbert Lester Fair, 43, of Cloverleaf Lane in Lincolnton, an acquaintance of the Vincents, is being held without bond in the Lincoln County jail in the couple’s death, police said.
Fair is accused of killing the victims inside their Broome Street home in July, but police have chosen not to disclose information on a murder weapon along with how the duo died and in what capacity the suspect supposedly knew them.
The suspect’s family told the Times-News earlier this month that they have no idea how Fair and the couple could have been linked.
While Fair’s record in the county and several other counties across the state show a record of repeated run-ins with the law, including numerous drug-related charges and other minor offenses, Fair does not have a history of violent crime, according to the North Carolina Department of Correction website.
An affidavit the Times-News retrieved from the Clerk of Court’s Office last week revealed police discovered “bloody” bodies at the crime-scene. Officers, however, would not verify comments from one of the couple’s friends and former neighbors, Justin Hester, who first found the bodies, that the woman had a facial injury and her husband displayed additional evidence of a violent death.
While Fair is set to appear in court again on Aug. 28, a grand jury will convene in the case a day earlier, police said. Investigators declined to comment on whether or not they believe Fair could potentially plead guilty prior to his second appearance.
A Lincoln County judge appointed Criminal Defense Attorney Marty Shuford, of the Lincolnton law firm Lewis & Shuford, P.A., to represent Fair temporarily, but Hickory attorney Victoria Jayne has since taken over the defense, the Clerk of Office’s said.
In recent weeks, officers have received a number of calls claiming Fair’s innocence in the double homicide, Greene said.
Even though investigators are not looking for any further suspects in the case at this time, they do promise to follow up on any leads that pour in to the Crime Stoppers tip line at (704) 736-8909, Greene said.

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