#UNSOLVED: Road rage turns deadly in Brunswick County


BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A case of road rage that ended in murder remains unsolved in Brunswick County.

Almost forty years ago, someone shot and killed Bennie Smith in the middle of the day in Brunswick County.

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It happened on June 21, 1979 on Pea Landing Road about two miles off of Highway 17. Captain Phil Perry with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office said it was around 1:45 in the afternoon.

“There was a Buick Electra, possibly a dark green, late model Buick Electra model 225 traveling towards Thomasboro,” Perry said.

Perry said Bennie Smith, 26, and his friend James Lee were on a motorcycle headed in the same direction. He said Bennie attempted to pass, and as he passed, the driver of the Electra 225 pulled to the left running Smith off of the road. Smith and the driver in the Buick started yelling at each other.

“They ended up having an argument about the reason for running him off the road like that according to the passenger on the motorcycle,” Perry said.

Perry said it escalated quickly. Then, he said the driver of the Buick pulled out a small handgun and started firing. He said. Lee jumped into a ditch.

“Bennie was struck one time in the head,” Perry said. “The shot went through the motorcycle helmet he was wearing.”

Perry said the shooter never got out of his car and when he drove off, he was in no rush despite a witness and several neighbors all watching.

“You would think, after shooting somebody and you got a witness there or a couple of witnesses there that he would have floored it or hightailed down the road but he didn’t,” Perry said.

After he was gone, Perry said Lee got out of the ditch and went up to the Smith. He said Lee had to pull the motorcycle off of Smith. Smith died two days later at the hospital.

Investigators put together a composite sketch of the shooter. witnesses say it was a man in his 30s or 40s. they say his car had some writing or a sign on the side. perry says the man shot smith with a 25-caliber gun.

Perry said several people have been interviewed over the years, and they have more or less been eliminated. While they do not know who did it, Perry said detectives do have an idea of what they are looking for.

“A yearbook out of Columbus County,” Perry said. “It’s very possible the suspect is from that county.”

He said it could be yearbooks from around 1957 through 1967. They are looking for someone who resembles the sketch they have of the shooter.

If you have any yearbooks from that time or any other information, please call the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.