LUMBERTON — The 2008 murder of John Wesley Faircloth Sr. was retaliation for a dispute over rental property between Faircloth and the parents of the man now accused of killing him, according to the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office.
The arrest of Eric Corey Sutton on Friday was the first arrest in the 8-year-old unsolved murder. Sutton is charged with first-degree murder.
Faircloth, a 65-year-old retiree, lived alone in his home on Wilkerson Road in Lumberton. According to an obituary, he had worked as a building contractor for 47 years.
There were no signs of forced entry when his daughter found him shot to death in the den of the house on Feb. 1, 2008, says sheriff’s Detective Forest Obershea.
According to Obershea, Sutton’s parents had lived in one of several rental properties Faircloth owned. A dispute between them began in 2006 because Faircloth believed they owed him money and they disagreed. Eventually, Faircloth evicted them.
Shortly before Faircloth’s murder, on Jan. 26, 2008, Sutton’s mother, Jacquelyn Sutton, was charged with misdemeanor injury to real property for damaging the house she rented. Obershea declined to say whether Sutton’s parents had been involved with the shooting.
Faircloth’s son, John Wesley Faircloth Jr., was convicted of second-degree murder in 2014 for killing a Fairmont man in a shooting that also injured three others. Obershea said the cases are not connected.
Sutton, who lived on Friendship Drive in Lumberton, was in federal custody in the Cumberland County Detention Center on unrelated charges when he was charged with Faircloth’s murder Friday. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he had been serving time on federal charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base or crack and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Obershea said he couldn’t discuss what new information broke the 8-year-old case, only that it started coming together about six years ago and that he had been establishing evidence to support the charge since. The North Carolina state crime lab, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and what was then known as the Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Enforcement Team assisted in the case.
Sheriff Kenneth Sealey said investigators spent “many, many, many hours trying to bring closure” to Faircloth’s family, although the investigation continues.
Sealey said his investigators try to revisit unsolved murders every chance they get, noting a 1988 cold case he has been working on since before becoming sheriff.
“We look forward to any of our unsolved cases getting leads so that we are able to solve them,” he said.