Suspect in 1972 Murder Case Is Arrested After DNA Testing

By Jane Werrell

A man was arrested in Florida for murdering a woman in 1972, in one of North Carolina’s coldest cases.

Larry Joe Scott, 65, was charged on Monday, April 29, for kidnapping and killing Bonnie Neighbors.

Neighbors went to pick up her 7-year-old son from school on Dec. 14, 1972, then disappeared, ABC11 reported. Several days later, her body was found bound and shot in a migrant worker housing unit. Her 4-month-old baby was with her, still alive.

The case was reopened in 2007 by Sheriff Steve Bizzell, who remembers the murder case from when he was a 14-year-old boy.

“In 1972, I was only 14 years old, but something about Bonnie Neighbors’s killing and about this case always bothered me,” Bizzell told reporters at a news conference.

“After I became sheriff in 2007, I was still haunted because her killer had not been found.”

‘We Have Found and Arrested Your Mother’s Murderer’

After reopening the case, DNA evidence was resubmitted for testing. Retesting from the State Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab eventually led to Scott’s arrest, according to The News & Observer, with more developed techniques from the Crime Lab in 2017 improving the chances of DNA matches.

“Sometimes justice is swift. Sometimes it takes longer,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said, the newspaper reported.

Bizzell said the motive for the crime is unclear, with no obvious connection between Scott and Neighbors.

“An innocent young mother was murdered, and the baby left in her arms at a migrant labor camp near Benson,” Bizzell said. “And that baby laid there during those cold December nights until he was finally found.”

He added, “I was able to look that little baby boy—who is now a grown man in the eyes—and I was able to tell him we have found and arrested your mother’s murderer.”

DNA Evidence

Last month, in a separate case, authorities in Washington arrested a 77-year-old man in connection with the killing of 20-year-old Jody Loomis, officials said.

The suspect was identified using genetic genealogy and DNA from a discarded coffee cup, according to reports.

“Thanks to the relentless persistence of our cold case team and new DNA technology, we are one step closer to justice for Jody,” Sheriff Ty Trenary said.

Loomis, 20, left her home and rode her bicycle toward a stable to ride her horse on Aug. 23, 1972. But she never made it to the field. Her body was found in the woods. She had been shot dead and sexually assaulted.

Police said DNA from an abandoned cup used by the suspect matched the DNA from the crime scene.

Last summer in the Netherlands, the suspect of a 1998 murder of Dutch boy, Nicky Verstappen, was found after mass DNA testing.

The suspect, Jos Brech, 55, was taken into custody on Aug. 26, 2018, after the largest DNA trawl in the country, including DNA tests from two of his relatives.

Investigators discovered that a trace of DNA found on Nicky’s clothes was from a man, so they invited over 21,500 men, between the ages of 18 and 75, to voluntarily donate DNA in the region where the crime took place.

They hoped to narrow their search by comparing the donor samples with the DNA trace found on the schoolboy’s clothes.

While Brech didn’t participate in the call for DNA samples, police said that Brech’s DNA matched 100 percent with the traces found on Nicky’s clothes.