Man found guilty in 2017 Tabor City murder

William Matthew Fortney (Photo: CCSO)

TABOR CITY, NC (WWAY) — A man will spend life in prison after being convicted Tuesday of killing a Columbus County man in 2017.

William Matthew Fortney was found guilty of first degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon, according to District Attorney Jon David.

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A Columbus County jury deliberated for about 40 minutes before rendering its verdicts.

Fortney was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the murder of Ricky Long. He also was sentenced to an additional 73-100 months in prison for armed robbery.

Long was found at his home by his brother, Rodney Martin, with two gunshot wounds to the head on Sept 16, 2017. When it was determined Long’s car was missing from the home, the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office sent out an alert.

Agents with the NC SBI, along with detectives from the sheriff’s office, learned that Amber Hitchcock and Fortney, both from Oklahoma, recently had been living with the Long.

Long had kicked the two out of his home some time prior to the murder.

Witnesses reported seeing Fortney and Hitchcock driving Long’s vehicle away from the home immediately before the discovery of Long’s body.

Within two days, North Carolina SBI received notification that Long’s vehicle was located by Oklahoma law enforcement in the Verdigris River.

The sheriff’s office and NC SBI worked in conjunction with Oklahoma SBI and local law enforcement to locate Hitchcock and Fortney in Tulsa, Okla., about 15 miles from where the vehicle was found.

The two were taken into custody and extradited back to North Carolina.