Trucker connection was Darlington investigator’s big break

Serial killer case takes off after victim ID’d

September 19, 2011


Darlington County Capt. Andy Locklair’s connections to the trucking industry helped him win the confidence of accused serial killer John Wayne Boyer and gain the confession that cracked that case wide open.

In the wake of Locklair’s work, Darlington County investigators say they’re receiving calls from investigators across the Southeast. Locklair and his fellow inverstigators presented their findings at a press conference last week in which they not only closed an 11-year-old murder case, but also tied the death to Boyer, who’s in a North Carolina prison serving a sentence on a similar murder there. He’s also been convicted of a Tennessee murder and investigators, and even Boyer’s attorney, say it’s like more is to come.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the last of John Wayne Boyer when it comes to unsolved cases,” Locklair said. “He was a truck driver. He’s been many places and typically, if you’ve killed three people that we know of right now, then who’s to say that’s where he stopped or who’s to say that’s where he started?”

Locklair has been on the trail of Boyer, or someone like him, since the remains of an unknown woman — since identified as 34-year-old Michelle Haggadone of Bolivia, N.C. — were found 11 years ago in Darlington County. Locklair and others worked doggedly on the case for years, but didn’t make much progress until N.C. authorities used DNA matching to help identify Haggadone and close a missing persons case they’d been working.

The indentification of Haggadone brought Locklair into contact with detectives in Brunswick County, N.C., who’d been following the case. After comparing notes, Brunswick Detective Sgt. Steve Mason told Locklair his crime scene, the one where Haggadone had been found, as well as other aspects of her case, were “awfully similar” to a case being worked by detectives in nearby New Hanover County, N.C. The suspect in that crime was Boyer, who was already in jail for a truck stop murder.

“It all kind of added up,” Locklair said.

After identifying Boyer as a suspect and linking Haggadone to her family, Locklair drove to North Carolina to try to obtain a confession from Boyer.

Boyer had already been convicted in the murder of 31-year-old Scarlet Wood in 2007 and is serving a 12-year sentence in a prison in North Carolina for that crime.

Investigators there said Wood was a Wilmington, N.C., area prostitute who was severely beaten and stabbed by Boyer and who died as a result of those injuries.

In addition, Boyer was convicted in 2005 in the murder of a Tennessee woman, 25-year-old Jennifer Smith.

Investigators there said Smith was a prostitute who got into a confrontation with Boyer and who was strangled with the seatbelt from Boyers’ truck.

Locklair said that Haggadone, who’d been estranged from her family, had a lifestyle similar to Boyer’s other victims.

Locklair said he knew that without much, if any, physical evidence in his case, he would have to obtain a confession from Boyer.

Locklair met with Boyer at his North Carolina correctional facility, where he said he was taken aback by Boyer’s utter lack of regard for the victims involved.

“Our first impression of him was that he was just a strange individual. He had a deep hatred for women and had some issues, some deep-rooted issues,” Locklair said.

He said that Boyer referred to the victims using slurs and tried to antagonize investigators.

Other investigators also knew quite quickly that they were not dealing with an ordinary suspect.

“Unfortunately when you have a case like this where you have a serial killer, a lot of times you see that. They have deep-rooted issues that cause them to behave that way,” Darlington County Sheriff Wayne Byrd said. “Their behavior is completely outside of the norm. The only way you can describe them is being evil.”

Locklair said he was able to break through Boyer’s barriers, however, and was eventually able to obtain a confession by beating the killer at his own psychological game. Locklair’s connection to the trucking industry — his father had been a trucker for 30 years and he’d spent time as a boy riding in his daddy’s truck — helped established a bond with Boyer than eventually led to a confession.

“I felt like, because my father had been a truck driver for 30 years, I understood the lingo. I could talk to him about things and make him comfortable enough to where he would open up,” Locklair said. “Once we started trapping him in different lies that he had told, he finally realized, you know, this is not working out … and then you get a confession.”

Locklair said that with the confession in hand, the investigation and its fallout picked up speed. Officials held the press conference, brought closure for Haggadone’s family and began fielding calls from investigators from across the Southeast.

Locklair and Byrd said Boyer is already a suspect in as many as three to four other unsolved killings across the Southeast and hoped that other investigations would bring closure for other families, as well.

Warrants for a Darlington County murder charge against Boyer could be served as early as Wednesday, Locklair said. But it’s unlikely Boyer will ever stand trial or serve time here.

The 54-year-old is in poor health, and after completing his 12-year North Carolina sentence, must go to Tennessee to serve time there. Only after that would proceedings in South Carolina begin.

“It’s unlikely we’ll ever see him,” Locklair said.


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