Investigators: Failed business deal may have led to murder-suicide that also killed unborn child

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Investigators say a failed business deal may have led to the murder-suicide in Monkey Junction Friday afternoon that left two men and an unborn baby dead and a mother fighting for her life.

At a news conference Saturday afternoon, District Attorney Ben David said the shooter at the Murphy USA on Carolina Beach Road in front of Walmart was Richard Albert Nielsen. He also said the shooting was not a random act of violence.

Investigators say Nielsen called out Russell Mitchell’s name as he approached Mitchell at the gas station and fatally shot him once in the head. He then walked a few feet and shot Mitchell’s pregnant sister-in-law Jessica Modolo in the head and abdomen before then walking a few feet away and fatally shooting himself in the head. Sheriff Ed McMahon said two or three children were in the car with Modolo during the shooting.

Modolo is in critical condition. Her unborn child died.

McMahon said his detectives worked through the night and all day Saturday so he could tell the community that the crime was not random, but instead was planned.

David said the shooting was the result of a failed business relationship that began in December. He said there was a dispute over property that was reported Thursday to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office. David said Nielsen had sold the property for about $4,000. Deputies advised him to return it, but because he could not, he knew he faced criminal liability.

David said yesterday Nielsen told family members that at 65 years old, he was not going to jail. Investigators say he gave away all his possessions, including his debit card and PIN. Then around 3:05 p.m. Friday he legally bought a .380 semi-automatic handgun. The shooting happened about an hour later.

“This was a deliberate murder and suicide,” McMahon said.

The sheriff said the whole incident happened in about 30-60 seconds.

The District Attorney said “The video tape will not be released because it is very graphic and the family of the victims asked us not to. Having said that, a couple of still images from it will better flesh out what occurred.” Those images were released.

Categories: New Hanover

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