Decade old missing person case now murder investigation


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A former Wilmington man is behind bars in Jesup, GA, for murder. The Wayne County (GA) Sheriff’s Department arrested Waylon Vernon Russell, 42, formerly of Wilmington Thursday and charged him with the 2002 murder of his father Ronald Wilbur Russell, 64.

Investigators say the crime was concealed for more than 10 years and began when Ronald Russell, a Wilmington native, was reported missing to the Wilmington Police Department more than year after his murder. Ronald Russell’s body was found on the bank of the Satilla River in Georgia and was unidentified until recently. The body was identified through DNA comparison conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

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The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office credits the Georgia State Bureau of Investigations and the Wilmington Police Department for helping to bringing closure to this case.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Ronald Russell as they embrace the news of this tragedy,” Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said in a news release. “Each year our officers work hard to bring closure to unsolved cases in our community. This arrest is evidence of what happens when we use technology, law enforcement partnerships and good old fashioned police work to close a case.”