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

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

Deputies responded to a call just before 2:30 p.m. to 482 Morningstar Lake Rd. in Forest City two days ago.

“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. So, we located what we believe were the remains of these two victims, what was left,” said Sheriff Chris Francis.

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

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 says he’s 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,” said Sheriff Francis.

Sheriff Francis says Cooley served time for drugs and larceny. He says they have reason to believe Cooley is responsible for Vandyke’s murder, but they’re still investigating McKinney’s.

“I can personally say that there are family members that love both of these victims, and this is difficult.”

The Rutherford County Sheriff’s office isn’t looking for any other suspects.

“We are not, 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,” Sheriff Francis said.

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

Sheriff Francis says they’re still conducting interviews and the autopsies are scheduled for Thursday, December 30. He says it will take a while to get the results back, especially because they’re dealing with partial remains.

The Rutherford County Detention Center says Cooley is being held without bond.  

To see previous reporting on this story, click here.

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