RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) – A Rutherford County man is facing multiple charges, including murder, after two dismembered bodies were found, the sheriff’s office said on Tuesday.
Deputies with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office arrested 34-year-old Matthew Thomas Cooley at his Forest City residence on Monday, December 27. Cooley was charged with murder and four counts of concealing and failing to report a death. He was given no bond.
The arrest came after the bodies of 44-year-old Jason VanDyke and 42-year-old Tracy McKinney were found at 482 Morningstar Lake Rd. in Forest City on Monday, December 27. Cooley and VanDyke lived at that address. Deputies responded to the residence after a call came in just before 2:30 p.m.
“It blew my mind that something like that would happen this close to home. Right at our back door,” said Sandy Carver, Cooley’s neighbor.
Carver said she heard about the news Tuesday night and is still in shock.
“We’ve been here going on 27 years and nothing like this has ever happened and it’s scary. I couldn’t believe it, it’s unbelievable. It still is. It’s like a movie.”
Arrest warrants state that deputies had probable cause to believe that Cooley was responsible for the murder of VanDyke and the dismemberment and destruction of his remains. They believe the murder happened between December 25 and December 27.
Cooley has not been charged with murder in relation to the death of McKinney, but arrest warrants stated they have probable cause to believe he is responsible for the dismemberment or destruction of the body. The sheriff’s office confirmed to 7News that McKinney was reported missing on December 26 and was last heard from on December 22. Her death remains under investigation.
Carver and her husband, Hubert, say they’re left with fear and sadness after the deaths.
“Just a sad thing, just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Hubert Carver.
“It leaves a lasting impression of fear, when it’s that close,” Sandy Carver added.
An autopsy for both victims has been scheduled for Wednesday, December 29.