Body found in Pender not missing woman, suspect still charged with murder

Tags: , , , , , ,

Submitted: Thu, 05/01/2014 - 9:45pm
Updated: Fri, 05/02/2014 - 7:09pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Police say a body found earlier this week in Pender County is likely not that of a Wilmington woman missing for several weeks.

At an afternoon news conference, Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said it appears the body found off Hoover Road near Hampstead is not Shannon Rippy Vannewkirk, who was last seen at a downtown Wilmington bar April 5, but further testing is still needed. Investigators had charged James Opelton Bradley, who worked with Vannewkirk at a landscaping company, with her murder.

District Attorney Ben David said during the news conference that Bradley is still charged with Vannewkirk’s murder. Now a second homicide investigation has been opened with the Pender County Sheriff’s Office and WPD. Investigators say Bradley is a suspect in that case as well.

“This is an unfortunate surprise,” Evangelous said. “This discovery is a surprise to all of us.”

Police say they will continue to search for Vannewkirk’s body.

Neither Evangelous nor David would answer questions during the news conference.

Many people have wondered how Bradley, who was convicted of the 1988 murder of his 8-year-old stepdaughter, could have been released from prison last year while serving a life sentence. Defense attorney James Payne, who is not currently involved in this case, says when Bradley was convicted in 1990 of the crime, he was eligible for parole after 20 years. Payne says the law change in 1994 leaving only two possible sentences for first-degree murder: life without parole or death.

“Life without parole means life without parole,” Payne said. “It means he will never, never be outside the prison wall.”


  • Ashly says:

    He Is A Murder !!! Alisha/Alicia’s body was found !

  • Hocit says:

    There are numerous examples of successful prosecutions for murder in cases where a body was never located. Google them yourself.

  • Guest2020 says:

    He is not the first person to be charged with a murder without there being a body. If convicted, he won’t be the first. There are a lot of things that are looked at when trying case of this nature.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    of egg foo yung on the faces of those involved.

    Now, what I do not understand is the DA’s statement that Suspect Bradley is still charged with the murder of the missing woman.

    Barring some details which have not been disclosed, how do you charge someone with murder if you don’t have the deceased’s remains or a credible eye witness who can testify they saw the murder committed?

    I’m not a lawyer; but common sense would indicate if you can’nt provide the remains or an eye witness, there was no crime.

  • SMH says:

    “I’m not a lawyer; but common sense would indicate if you can’nt provide the remains or an eye witness, there was no crime.” No sir, you are not. Actually, one can be charged of a crime without the remains or an eye witness. There are other ways to prove someone is guilty. I am certain the authorities have enough cause to hold this man on murder charges. We, the public, have not been given that information just yet, for sake of corrupting the case.

  • 9743 says:

    I agree with you and since they don’t have a body who’s to say that this woman isn’t still alive….this DA will probably try to find a way to charge Mr. Bradley with her murder even if she is found alive, that’s the way he operates.

  • Guest2020 says:

    His plea is legal proof that he is guilty. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to get around the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing.

  • Really says:

    Funny when people with no sense of what happens in a particular profession make comments about the profession they know nothing about.
    Perhaps Mr Bradley was lured to a beautiful venue and requested to was guilty to the brutal murder of an 8 year old girl with the promise of dinner and drinks but………. I don’t think so knuckle head. Rest assured that there was a thou rough investigation which you, knuckle head, may review, as it is public information.

  • 2quick2judge says:

    So I wonder what everyone has to say now that the body is not Shannon. Bet everyone still thinks this man is guilty and that he’s just going around killing people left and right. This man is being charged for a crime that we don’t even know has actually been committed. Where is his justice? Where are people in support of his rights? Now he’s being accused of this other person’s death but they have yet to identify who this person is. Has anyone contacted Mott since this body is on HIS property?

    As far as him murdering a child… He was not actually found guilty. He pled guilty so there was never an actual investigation. Not saying he didn’t do it, just saying that it wasn’t proven that he was guilty. Possible that he covered for the person who may have been responsible. Everyone just wants to shame this man because he’s a black man with a criminal background. Gotta love the south.

  • SMH says:

    Seriously! You are a freaking idiot. “Everyone just wants to shame this man because he’s a black man with a criminal background”. Even though he pled guilty to the death of the 8 year old, there WAS still and investigation. Nobody is sentenced to life in prison without an investigation. But, back to you trying to make it about the color of his skin. Who gives a flip what color he is? THIS MAN is a murderer. I am certain on the day he was arrested he shaved his beard, his head, and packed a suitcase just to go shopping. NOT! Get your head out of the sand. You can best believe if he is still being charged with murder, it is because they have evidence to tie him to her disappearance. Geesh!

  • Guest2020 says:

    THE PEOPLE v. LEONARD EWING SCOTT set the precedence for a murder conviction without the body.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    get a grip. your attempt to appear brighter than a moonbeam failed.

    You took my thoughts and words; rearranged them; and posted what you hoped would be a blinding ray of wisdom.

    A parrot or monkey could have donethe same.

    I clearly stated there must be other information or an eye witness to the deed if the DA was going forward with charges.

    If there is not, any half baked attorney should be able to get charges dismissed. At the end of the day, the Prosecution must be able to prove a death occurred before they can attempt to prove one is guilty.

    Go get a cracker or banana if it will make you feel better. Frankly, your opinion appears solitary.

  • 2quick2judge says:

    The case is already corrupt. They arrested him because they found a body they “believed” was Shannon, without even waiting to see if it was Shannon. So they charged him with a murder that they aren’t even certain he committed and now refuse to free him after realizing their error and want to pin him with a murder they weren’t even originally investigating. You just want someone to be guilty even if it’s the wrong person.

  • 2quick2judge says:

    Okay so where is this supposed packed suitcase? How was he going to skip town with no money and no vehicle? Think before you make dumbass comments. This was speculation from a neighbor. Not facts so how about we shut up a little. Just because he was arrested does not mean he is guilty. There have been plenty of cases where they nabbed the wrong guy and it’s possible that this is such a case. The body found was found on Mott’s property or close to it but instead of questioning Mott or even being suspicious of the fact that there’s a body on his property, the entire community has gone all torches and pitchforks after a man that is not for certain guilty. Had this man not had a record, Mott would be an immediate suspect since there was a body found on his property. Such a disgusting case of trial by media.

  • Guesteasy says:

    Well this is a twist. I feel so sorry for Ms Rippys family. Who else is missing? How were the police led to this body? Has this guy admitted to killing anyone else? Thanks a lot for letting this guy out of prison.

  • lonetraveler says:

    It shouldn’t take long for medical examiners to determine how long the remains found off Hoover Rd. in Pender county has been buried. If the remains have been there longer than Bradley has been out of prison then someone else obviously put the remains there. With the obvious fact known that Bradley was a convicted murderer are there any other evidence linking him to the murder of missing woman Shannon Rippy? He has been linked to this area ie., a garden plot he was supposedly using, but there’s the fact that a body was found buried nearby. This is getting stranger by the minute.

  • 2quick2judge says:

    It was not a garden plot that Bradley was using. Reports say it is an area either belonging to Shannon’s boss or nearby this property. For me, this begs the question of whether or not the boss is being investigated. A body, whether it is Shannon or not was found on or around his property. He needs to be investigated instead of all focus and energy being spent on someone just based on the fact that he has a criminal history. Not saying that he was framed, but I am saying it certainly would be easy to do since he does have a record. I’m sure he has enemies that never wanted him to see the light of day in the first place.

  • eddie says:

    Okay I get it this guy is scum. But how the hell do u charge him with murder ?? No body, apparently no crime scene or evidence. Makes no sense at all

Leave a Reply