20 Years Later: Bear Grass Woman's Murder Still Unsolved - WSPA.com

20 Years Later: Bear Grass Woman's Murder Still Unsolved

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A 65-year-old woman gunned down as she was working the counter at a convenience store. It happened 20 years ago in the close-knit Martin County community of Bear Grass.

Who killed Audrey Leggett and why?

Investigators have worked tirelessly to come up with answers to those questions but the leads have come up dry and the case is now cold. Still, family and friends hold onto Audrey's memory and the hope that one day her murder will be solved.

May 30th 1993. It started off as a quiet day in Bear Grass. Most days were.

Now mayor, Charlotte Griffin, grew up there.

"Everybody knows everybody. Everybody kind of looks out for everybody. And when I was growing up here, you can't do it now, but when I was growing up here, you could leave the house be gone a week and never lock the door," she said.

But that afternoon, a sinister soul somehow managed to blend in. A perfect stranger? Perhaps… Or was it someone they knew?

It's a day that will stay with the town of Bear Grass forever.

"We don't have things happen here. And that's the truth. Not normally. And people need to know that. This was just such a rarity; an unbelievable occurrence.  And it still really hurts. It hurts everybody," said Griffin

It was a little after lunchtime, Memorial Day weekend.

65-year-old Audrey Leggett was working at the popular hangout "Cherry's Cupboard."

Then store owner , Jerry Cherry, was with her that day.

"She was a boss. She let everybody know where they stand. She was good for the store," said Cherry.

Leggett was a single mother of three. Her son, Herbie, remembers her as the head of the household. His father died in a tragic car accident when he was just 17.

"She was a people person. I mean she really loved it. She worked but she really loved it. I tried to get her many a time to just stay at home," said Herbie.

But Audrey would never get the chance to stay home. She would never get the chance to rest.

On that quiet day in May, Jerry went out for a little while, leaving Audrey to man the store. A short time later the phone rang. It was Audrey's daughter, Judy.

"Judy called momma to find some directions on how to cook something. They were talking about that and momma said ‘hold on a minute'…click…and that was it. That was the last thing anybody ever heard," said Herbie.

Audrey was dead.

"They drug her all the way into the back, going to the cooler and then they shot her," said Cherry.

She was shot several times. A couple hundred dollars were missing from the register. Customers would eventually find her.

Word travels fast in bear grass. Soon dozens of people lined up outside the store. Charlotte Griffin was one of them.

"You were thinking ‘oh my goodness how could Audrey be dead? Somebody just killed her!' you know, you're upset, you're just devastated. And then in a minute or two you're thinking ‘I wish I could get my hands on whoever did it because this is awful. This is senseless," said Griffin.

"At that point we really didn't know what to do. We just sat out there for awhile and then went home. I asked to go in and they wouldn't let me go in. Probably was a good idea," said Herbie.

After the initial shock wore off, questions remained.

"Why her? Why that? What reason did they have to do this just for that little bit of money they got. You just had to know that the person you did that to….what they had been through in their life and the struggle and sacrifice. They deserve so much better than what they got," said Herbie.

How could this happen in their little town? How could somebody do this to their mother and friend? How could they walk away in the middle of the day unnoticed.?

"I feel like whoever did it knew her," said Cherry.

At that time there was no surveillance in the store.

Deputies searched for days, questioning anyone who might have been in the area.

"We did a traffic check the next day because we thought there's a lot of traffic going through Bear Grass Road, going to Greenville back and forth," said Martin County Sheriff, Dan Gibbs.

The search came up empty. 20 years later: still no answers.

Subtle reminders still linger. The old "Cherry's Cupboard" still stands. A bullet hole is still in the freezer door. And the emotions are still raw.

"Never really goes away huh?" asked 9 on your side's Kristen Hunter.

"No you accept it, but it will never go away," said Cherry.

"I believe with all my heart at some point we have to know who did it because it's just not acceptable to think that we won't," said Griffin.

It's been especially hard on Audrey's family.

"Time heals, I guess you could say, to some degree. It's not like it was 20 years ago. But it still hurts. And the need to know what happened is still there," said Herbie.

One day, the Leggetts hope to have answers. Sadly, if and when that day comes, Audrey's daughter won't be there. She passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage two years ago.

"She never got over it. Every day she cried about it," said Herbie.

Until they meet again…

"We're still hoping. She deserves more than what she got. She deserves to know. We deserve to know," said Herbie.

Investigators believe someone, somewhere knows something about Audrey's murder. Whether you were driving through the area at the time, or you live in Bear Grass…they say tips are eventually what's going to solve this case.

There's still a cash reward for anyone with information that leads to an arrest.

 

MARTIN COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE:

PHONE NUMBER: 252-789-4500

CRIMESTOPPERS: 252-792-8800

WEBSITE:  http://www.martincountyncgov.com/sheriff

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Martin-County-Sheriffs-Office-Dan-W-Gibbs-Sheriff/214972345223120

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