The Mooresville Police Department says it doesn’t have many unsolved crimes on its books, but there are just enough troubling ones to keep investigators scratching their heads.
Chief Carl Robbins last week highlighted the most prominent unsolved cases, in the hope that people with information about the crimes will come forward and help close the books on them.
“The chances of a homicide being solved are much better than a case like property crime or larceny,” Robbins said. “Homicides and more serious crimes are typically more likely to be solved because people are inclined to come forward.
“Also, a lot of the time in our local cases, motives are usually apparent from the start and come out quickly during the investigation.”
The most prominent unsolved crime in Mooresville is 2009 murder of 31-year-old Matthew Stewart in his home. It has become the MPD’s most baffling case, and a lack of motive has left detectives stumped.
Stewart, a registered nurse at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center, was fatally shot by an intruder in the bedroom of his Gabriel Estates home. His wife, Angela, was wounded in the June 9, 2009 incident, which has been categorized as a home invasion.
No suspects have been identified nor have any arrests been made, but Robbins said the case is still active. He said he has recently asked more investigators to come in and look over the case with fresh eyes.
Robbins drew a parallel line to that case from a murder in 1986 that also has gone unsolved. In the latter case, Homer Shephard, Jr. answered a knock at the door of his East Iredell Avenue home about 9:15 at night. As he opened the door, he was shot in the face.
“Like the Matt Stewart case, we are struggling with a motive because Mr. Shephard had a large amount of cash on his person and nothing was taken,” said Robbins.
Two other cases revolving around hit-and-run accidents also remain a mystery to Mooresville police.
One occurred Dec. 15, 2002, when pedestrian Harold Gabriel was struck and killed while crossing Cabarrus Avenue near Sycamore street, about 8 p.m. “With it being winter, it was dark outside then, and we don’t have any leads,” Robbins said.
“But Cabarrus Avenue is not typically a street that is traveled by someone who is not from the area. We feel like the driver or passenger may live here and we would love to get more information and bring closure to the family.”
The other unsolved case has even fewer leads to go on.
In 1986 or 1987 (the date on the case is unclear, Robbins said), Lewis Stockton was crossing West Iredell Avenue at Bell Street and was struck and killed. There were no leads at the time, but a potential break in the case occurred in the mid-1990s.
“A police officer from the Midwest called to ask about a pedestrian struck on West Iredell and told us that an informant told him that she knew who did it,” Robbins said. “The woman said something about it being a relative of hers in a rental vehicle and was supposed to come by the station to give the officer more information, but never followed up.
“Unfortunately, we never found out anything more. There were reports that the informant went to Las Vegas, but it was disappointing the lead didn’t pan out.”
Likewise, there is no information in the case of a Pennsylvania woman who went missing in 2003 while traveling from Pennsylvania to Mooresville.
Robbins said the disappearance of Bernadette Mildred Rodko, who would be 53 now, was deemed “very suspicious.” She disappeared Oct. 17, 2003 when her car blew a tire on I-77. Someone stopped to help her, and Rodko was never seen again.
Rodko’s car, a silver Pontiac Fiero, was spotted on N.C. 150, Robbins said, and later turned up in a storage unit on Oak Ridge Farm Road.
She had told friends in Pennsylvania that she was coming to Mooresville to “collect on a debt,” but gave no further details, Robbins said.
Robbins asks that anyone who may have information about any unsolved crime to call the MPD at 704-664-3311, or anonymously at 704-658-9056 (Crimestoppers).