COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- A Columbus County mother is grieving after learning her son died at the hands of another. It started as a missing persons case, but turned into much more.
John Nealey, 52, was missing for three days before relatives found his body in the woods near his home. Now, his family wants justice.
"He said, 'Mama, I'll be back at 8:00 to make sure you get your medicine and get to bed. Don't worry. I'll be here,'" Nealey's mother Rose Williamson said.
But 8:00 came, and there was no sign of Nealey. Rose williamson says her son never returned from the corner store. Three days later, family members discovered his body just yards from their home. He was lying in the brush, just off a dirt road.
"I'm really at peace, because I know he's not suffering no more," Williamson said. "I know he's not got to say, 'Mama, I'm hungry, I'm starving and can't eat.'"
Before his murder, Nealey battled cancer. Surgeons had removed part of his palate and his tongue, which made it difficult to talk or swallow.
He had been living with his mother. She nor detectives knew how Nealey died, until the medical examiner performed an autopsy.
"Those results showed evidence of foul play," Capt. David Nobles of the Columbus County Sheriff's Office said. "He was shot in the side, apparently, by a shotgun, so at this point it has been ruled a homicide."
Now family and friends gather to offer support, while a grieving mother has harsh words for the killer.
"I hope they find you and let the judge and jury judge you, let you be put across the railroad track and let me pull the trigger," Williamson said.
The Columbus County Sheriff's Office only received a preliminary autopsy report. They expect to have the finished report in a few weeks.