9 on your side Cold Case: The Jefferson Murder - WNCN: News, Weather

9 on your side Cold Case: The Jefferson Murder

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A well-liked business man – murdered in his own bed.

Nearly 13-years later the case remains unsolved.

He was a true southern gentleman. Described by many as "debonair."

"He was the most wonderful host you can imagine. Anyone who ever was lucky enough to go to Jim's house after church on Sunday knows what I'm talking about," said friend and co-worker, Edna Raper.

Jim Jefferson would host church choir rehearsals at his Fountain, "plantation-style" home. He was a world traveler and loved to share his knowledge with others, especially when it came to his one true love: antiques.

"He knew antiques frontwards and backwards. He knew everything about English furniture but he knew American as well, we deal mostly in English furniture and accessories and that was his passion long before he even got here he was a collector," said Doug Boone, co-owner of "Boone's Antiques" in Wilson.

Jim spent decades working as an antique dealer at the store. Boone says he hardly ever missed a day.

His house was fit for a king. Each room was adorned with thousands of dollars of upscale furniture. Friends say he'd eat a hot dog and Doritos on a $500.000 plate.

"This was his life. His work, his church and his family," said Raper.

But November 88th, 2000 was different. Raper knew something was wrong.  

"When he didn't come to work the next day I was concerned. Because he was never late and he would have always told me if he expected to be late. So I called his sisters thinking he may have fallen, never could I have thought anyone would have hurt him," she said.

The night before was election night. Ever the socialite, Mr. Jefferson went to a party that evening.

"He came home. He had a guest at his home that night who stayed there with him until about 10:30pm and that guest left and that at this point was the last person that we know that saw Mr. Jefferson alive," said Pitt County Detective, Shannon Stewart.

Family members found the 78-year-old dead in his bed. A medical examiner's report later determined he had been strangled.

"A strangulation crime does tend to show a personal involvement. It's up close, face to face," said Stewart.

There was no forced entry, no obvious sign of a struggle. As for all of Mr. Jefferson's precious antiques… 

"None of that was stolen. There was only one item that we could show, that we could think of, that was missing. That was a chain with a medallion on it that he wore around his neck," said Stewart.

Detectives came to one conclusion:  

"It is our belief that the perpetrator of this crime was someone that was known to Mr. Jefferson," said Stewart.

Jefferson's guest that night is no longer considered to be a suspect. Nearly 13 years later, the case remains unsolved.

Pitt County Detective, Shannon Stewart, has taken over and he's hopeful that new advancements in technology could bring answers.  

"We've been able to eliminate quite a few people. There are a few people that we've not been able to eliminate," he said.

Not a day goes by where the people who were by Jim's side for years, don't think of him.  

"We miss him every day. He's just a gentle person and he was really part of the family," said Boone.

"We've had customers to say we have a Jim drawer. Correspondence or articles about Jim or information about Jim they would keep and when he died, when he was murdered, for at least two months I did telephoning, fielding calls all day long from people who just wanted to talk about how important he was in their life," said Raper.

Even after all these years, they haven't given up hope that one day this senseless crime will be solved.

"Justice is a big part of it, for his life that was snuffed out, such a valuable life," said Raper.

"Someone out there knows something and if you do something about the case, please come forward and share your information with us. No matter how big or how small you think it may be. And give us the opportunity to follow up on that information. Because Mr. Jefferson deserves that. He deserves justice. And the person that's responsible for his death needs to be brought to justice," said Stewart.

Anyone with information about the case can call Detective Stewart at the Pitt County Sheriff's Office: 252- 902-2702 or you can anonymously give a tip by calling Crimestoppers 252-758-7777.

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