No clues to escapee’s morbid fate
By Lindell John Kay
Rocky Mount Telegram
Sunday, April 22, 2018
WINDSOR — Questions linger in the death of a Chowan County jail escapee whose headless corpse was found in Bertie County two years ago.
Kelvin Singleton, 26, was found decapitated in the rural community of Merry Hill on April 7, 2016. His story is just one of dozens of missing-person cases, unidentified bodies and unsolved murders in eastern North Carolina.
The macabre Easter Sunday discovery of Singleton’s body made international news. Two years later, Bertie County Sheriff John Holley said his detectives are still investigating the case.
A skull found on the shore in the New Hope community in Perquimans County earlier this year was initially thought to belong to Singleton, Holley said. However, a medical examiner said the remains belonged instead to a boater who went missing in July 2016.
In late March 2016, Singleton had been locked up for a couple of months in the Chowan County Detention Center after being arrested Jan. 9 that year on charges related to the armed robbery of an Edenton tobacco store.
Singleton was accused of using a BB gun to rob Pearl’s Tobacco Plus, taking $369 in cash and two packs of cigarettes and using a stolen vehicle as a getaway car. Police picked him up a short time later.
While incarcerated, Singleton caused so many disruptions that he was transferred to a prison facility for several weeks before he was returned to the Chowan jail for a court date, according to archived reports.
Authorities were scheduled to transport Singleton to Charlotte where he faced pending charges of assault with a deadly weapon. But the afternoon of April 7, 2016, the day before the out-of-town authorities were set to arrive in Edenton, Singleton supposedly sharpened a toothbrush into a weapon and forced an unarmed jailer to open a door to let him escape.
Chowan County Sheriff Dwayne Goodwin said Singleton was seen running along Oakum Street, which is about a block from the jail. Deputies searched for him with dogs, but couldn't find the escapee.
Eleven days later, a hunter found a nude, headless decomposing body in a wooded area off Ashland Church Road, about a dozen miles from the jail, across the Chowan County line in Bertie County .
The body was verified as Singleton’s via fingerprints. Initial reports indicated there were no wounds on Singleton's body, except for the beheading. His death certificate, however, notes he was shot.
Authorities believe Singleton died about a week before his body was found.
Singleton’s family members were unaware of the gunshot wounds at the time his body was found. They previously questioned how someone could have gotten close enough to kill Singleton by decapitation, saying he wouldn't have gone down without a fight.
Singleton's head is still missing.
Anyone with information about the case should contact the Bertie County Sheriff's Office at 252-794-5330.