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Agents build case against Pridgen while investigating Ward's death
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Agents build case against Pridgen while investigating Ward's death

Federal agents came up short in their quest to link the 1973 death of Gene Ward to some type of cover-up by the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

That’s what Federal Bureau of Investigation documents Gene’s daughter, Carolynn Ward Holt of South Carolina, has been able to secure during her own investigation into her father’s death.

But the paper trail clearly shows that as agents investigated Gene’s death, they learned more about corruption within the sheriff’s office.

Donald Ward, Gene’s brother, gave a statement to FBI agents on Oct. 7, 1977. Just over four years had passed since Gene was found dead in the parking lot of the Southern 500 truck stop just outside Elm City. Gene worked at the truck stop as a station attendant.

When Ward was talking to investigators in 1977, he was trying to help get himself out of trouble since he’d been arrested and was facing federal prison time. In a signed statement, Ward alleges the sheriff’s office involvement in narcotics trafficking could be why Gene died.

A November 1977 FBI memo indicates that Gene may have attempted to identify drug suppliers. But the name of the person drugs were allegedly being supplied to is redacted from the memo. That same memo shows that agents were trying to find Gene’s wife, Lois. By this time, Lois Ward had moved on and remarried.

In November 1977, agents investigating what would turn out to be a multi-state prostitution ring made their way to Martin, Ga., to interview Sula O’Bar, a prostitute with ties to Wilson County. An FBI memo dated Nov. 7, 1977 states agents contacted O’Bar at her home. But O’Bar "could provide no information” about Gene’s death. O’Bar told agents "she was risking a considerable amount by cooperating with the FBI in this matter and really did not wish to get involved.” Still, O’Bar pledged to keep helping and would "most likely be kept abreast of activities in Wilson County.”

A February 1978 FBI memo shows agents in Norfolk, Va. were also asking questions about Gene’s death as they helped with the investigation into the sheriff’s office.

It’s also in February 1978 that federal agents met with Wilson County’s manager and county commissioners informing them of the investigation into the sheriff’s office. In March 1978, the State Bureau of Investigation confirmed there was an investigation into the sheriff’s office. It’s also in March 1978 that SBI Director Haywood Starling confirms Frank Brown asked for an investigation in May or June of 1977 into the sheriff’s office. Brown turned over the report he received from the SBI to Howard Boney, who became district attorney for Wilson County in February 1978 after Brown had been tapped for a judgeship.

A Daughter's Quest

A Daughter's Quest chronicles Carolynn Ward Holt’s search to find answers about her father’s death. Her father — Obbie Gene Ward — died on Sept. 1, 1973 from injuries due to a single gunshot wound to the head.

Was it an unfortunate accident, suicide or perhaps murder? Either way, lives changed in the predawn hours of that late summer morning.

Do You Remember?

If you have information about the death of Gene Ward in September 1973, contact The Wilson Times at 265-7822 or the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office at 237-2118.

Click here to view FBI documents from 1977-79 showing agents were asking questions about Gene Ward's death.
It would take until December 1978 for the federal grand jury to indict Wilson County Sheriff Robin Pridgen for tax evasion, rico and conspiracy. The same grand jury would also indict Tony Owens, Pridgen’s chief deputy at that time, for making false statements to the grand jury, obstruction and conspiracy.

Ironically at the time federal officials were confirming the investigation, Pridgen was in the middle of a Democratic primary as part of his re-election bid for sheriff. Pridgen was being challenged by his own brother, former deputy Gene Pearson and a former highway patrolman.

Pridgen would win his re-election bid in a runoff against Pearson. But he would also go on to be convicted and serve prison time. Owens was acquitted of the charges. Pridgen is deceased.

Pearson, who had resigned from the sheriff’s office by the time Pridgen and Owens were indicted, remembers a federal agent calling and asking if he could come to his home.

"I never saw him take a bribe,” Pearson said of Pridgen. "Deep in my mind, I know he did.”

Pearson said he knew Pridgen couldn’t afford to drive a new vehicle every year or buy a house in the Wilson neighborhood known as British Woods plus pay alimony to an ex-wife who lived out of state.

Pearson doesn’t believe former sheriff Bill Thompson was in on the corruption. Thompson was sheriff when Pridgen was serving as chief deputy.

"I don’t think Bill Thompson took a dishonest dollar,” Pearson said.

But Pearson remembers that while campaigning against Pridgen during the 1978 election that people called his home making threats. People told Pearson’s wife she’d be going to her husband’s funeral if they didn’t back off. Pearson had his gas tank filled with sand. His supporters were threatened. Campaign signs destroyed.

"It was a dirty race,” Pearson said.

But Pearson said the FBI agent who interviewed him about the sheriff’s office at the time never asked him about Gene’s death.

"No, they didn’t ever mention his name. It happened. It died down.”

Pearson said he never heard Gene’s death mentioned again until Holt started calling him. | 265-7822
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Oh... said...

Thanks for clarifying. So the investigation was already ongoing for 5 months before Donald was arrested; just like I already stated. So Donald did in fact provide "additional" information to an investigation already in process.
Where is anything stating Donald was a protected witness? Who did he testify against?

Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 10:20 PM
frank brown asked the sbi to look into the rumors of the WCSO corrution said...

in may or june 1977. the feds got involved in oct after Donald's arrest and his allegations and after the interview with the brothel madam led to questioning of others and a federal grand jury was appointed to hear the allegations and make recommendations , if any, for prosecution. read the fbi files totally. just click on the paper clip to read the fbi files concerning this part of the investigation just above the comment section. this is an FBI investigative report not the RICCI digest training expose for agents and prosecutors highlighting successfully prosecuted RICCO cases.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013 at 7:31 PM
protected informant said...

Donald was arrested in early October 1977. he started talking to the FBI about Genes death and the illegal corruption of the WCSO. . later the same month the FBI interviewed the madam of the Wilson brothel and she furnished information as to the bribery payments. as a result of her questioning other individuals associated with the prostitution enterprise admitted involvement.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013 at 7:22 PM
@No my dear said...

They also said Uncle Donald was "protected witness".
But yet he didn't testify in either trial.
I can't find any indication he testified in any trials

Tuesday, October 08, 2013 at 8:00 PM
No my dear.... said...

You are wrong again. The investigation into Robin Pridgen was not actually STARTED when Donald began snitching as the Ward family would have us believe. He contributed information to an already ongoing investigation. Their claim that Donald brought down the prostitution ring and saved everyone from the oppressive and immoral WCSD is false.
Anyone by chance read the "1979/1980 RICO Digest" put out by the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE to help educate their agents?...
"Pridgen was employed by the Wilson County Sheriff 's Office from August, 1952, until November, 1974, as Chief Deputy of that county. As of 1974, he was then elected the Sheriff of Wilson County, During the past several years, rumors have existed that Pridgen and possibly other members of the Sherif f ' s Office were knowledgeable of and possibly protecting prostitution and gambling operations within the Wilson County area. During October, 1977, the madam of a local prostitution business in the Wilson County area furnished information to the FBI regarding direct payments to the Sheriff for protection of her business.
Based on this information, other individuals associated with prostitution enterprises in the Wilson County area, upon interview, concerned the same allegations as those furnished by this madam."
Donald was not the hero of this saga and was only a minor role in a big play. It's amazing how many errors and misrepresentations have been put forth in this series of articles.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013 at 10:36 PM
protected federal witness said...

That's new. Uncle Donald was quite the character. I knew he tried to save himself when he got busted with the stolen truck, but "protected federal witness" implies a whole lot more.
So, who did he testify against? He didn't testify in any of trials involving Pridgen or Owens. I wonder why not since he was so instrumental in launching the investigation?

Tuesday, October 08, 2013 at 10:10 PM It sounds like said...

with all of the questionable activities those Ward boys were into; they probably had run-ins with lots of people.

Monday, October 07, 2013 at 1:41 PM the sbi and fed didnt get involved said...

until Ward was arrested for taking stolen cargo across state lines in 1977. Donald became a cooperating and protected federal witness during that time. he told investigators his brother had a run in run in with Robin Pridgen , over his wife, (Genes wife Lois) and threatened Pridgen and told him he would kill him if he didn't stay away from her .within a week , Gene Ward was dead. Donald told them he believed Pridgen had something g to do with his brothers death or put others up to doing it. Pridgen was probably too smart to do it himself. during the course of Genes death investigation, large scale corruption by the WCSO became apparent, including bribery by cash payments and free services of the prostitutes for WCSO supervisors and personnel for the protection of the Wilson operations of a large multi-state prostitution ring, Gambling operations and other illegal activity with ties to corruption in the county and with the knowledge of the contradiction at all by the wt. documented in Fbi reports.

Monday, October 07, 2013 at 9:14 AM just because he was indicted at the time of the election said...

did mean he had been found guilty or pleaded guilty yet. a lot of the details of the widespread corruption became public during the trial testimony and newspaper archives or court testimony that was not available before the trial and was only available to the grand jury.

Sunday, October 06, 2013 at 8:53 PM DA Asked for Investigation said...

Why is the WDT and the Ward daughters saying that the corruption investigation into the WCSO began when the Feds were investigating Gene Wards death when this article states

" It’s also in March 1978 that SBI Director Haywood Starling confirms Frank Brown asked for an investigation in May or June of 1977 into the sheriff’s office. Brown turned over the report he received from the SBI to Howard Boney, who became district attorney for Wilson County in February 1978 after Brown had been tapped for a judgeship."
Brown was the Wilson County DA. He asked for the investigation. There is no paper trail whatsoever indicating there was any link between Gene Wards death and the investigation into the Sheriff's office.
The WDT has contradicted it's on theory.

Sunday, October 06, 2013 at 12:34 PM @ do you hear what you are saying said...

just because he was indicted, he had not been tried yet and found guilty and the public hadn't seen all the grand jury testimony or all the damning court sworn testimony, even from his own son Butch who admitted to taking bribes and money and freebies from the prostitutes. I guess his own son lied about this father. the ones that had already pulled prison time didn't have anything to gain by lying. they even had elks night, moose lodge night and closed Friday morning for the deputies getting off night shift at the Forest Manor Inn. politicians and prominent attorneys and businessmen were frequent patrons at the brothels .

Saturday, October 05, 2013 at 12:05 AM @Do you even hear what you are saying? said...

No, they don't hear what you're saying. They're allergic to the truth and the facts.

Saturday, October 05, 2013 at 9:25 PM Do you even hear what you are saying? said...

What did they have to gain by lying? They avoided prison,
You don't know how much the public knew at the time of the election? Did you hear what I said, Robin had been indicted and was awaiting trial.

Friday, October 04, 2013 at 4:04 PM @ former wilson resident said...

a lot of them were not indicted and some who had been had already served their time, so what would they have to gain by lying. testimony is under oath in court and under perjury charges if found to be lying under oath. I don't know about how much information the public knew at the time of the election as to the extent of Pridgen , Owens and the rest of the WCSO corruption. . Wayne Gay was chief of detectives under Pridgen during a lot of that time and the people didn't have any better sense than to elect him by a slim margin in a 5 way race and reelect him , usually unopposed, 6 more times until a qualified democrat like Calvin Woodard overwhelmingly sent him in the democratic primary and his handpicked crony in the general election packing.

Friday, October 04, 2013 at 12:11 AM Former Wilson Resident said...

go to google archive search said...
"and enter Robin Pridgen. read ALL the articles about the decades old WCSO corruption. these guys were worse than the mafia with racketeering ,intimidation and a whole lot of other crooked sh..stuff. amazing how widespread corruption could have gone on for so long."
I took your advice. All I saw was Barry and Carol Ruffin who were already under indictment saving their butts.

Thursday, October 03, 2013 at 10:20 PM Former Wilson Resident said...

just curious said...
"Wasn't Gene Pearson fired from the Wilson sheriff's department by Pridgen? Pridgen never had an ex wife he was paying alimony to in another state. Who was Pridgen's brother that was running against him in 1978? Where is British Woods? I have never heard of this development in Wilson. Pridgen lived on his wife's farm on her homeplace. Sounds like someone has an ax to grind against Pridgen."
Oh by the way James Hawley was fired too. I made a comment that wasn't approved by the moderators detailing why he was fired, but it didn't make the cut. Didn't fit their story line I guess.. Or maybe they have decided to start fact checking since they haven't before now,

Thursday, October 03, 2013 at 9:29 PM Former Wilson Resident said...

"type in robin pridgen sheriff wilson county , hit search and read all the articles yourself detailing the massive corruption going on in sworn court testimony as reported by many newspapers. it will blow your mind. these guys were worse than John Gotti . you dont have to beleive all these stupid comments by either side"
I followed your instructions. Didn't see what you saw. I saw a bunch of testimony from people under indictment on racketeering charges themselves trying to save their own butts.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013 at 8:59 PM Former Wilson Resident said...

Something that most of you do not realize is that Robin was re-elected after being indicted. That's right. He was under a federal indictment waiting for trial when he was re-elected.
Interesting don't you think considering "everyone knew he was corrupt". Tells me two things. A lot of folks thought the charges were crap. Also tells you what they thought of Gene Pearson

Wednesday, October 02, 2013 at 8:09 PM Typo? said...

How could it be a typo? It was hand written, not typed. You are saying he hand wrote several mistakes into his report. So Dr. Richards autopsy report was flawed?
He documented he was notified at 4:30 am. This was wrong on his part?
He documented he viewed the body at 4:50 am. This was incorrect as well?
Mr. Matthews stated they stayed until Dr. Richards arrived. Are you saying he was wrong too?
The EMS log shows Mr. Matthews was back kn duty at 5:10 am AFTER leaving the body in Dr. Richards care. Was the EMS log wrong too?
You are correct. There are no documents showing Dr. Hadley disagreed with Dr. Richards... There are also no documents showing Dr. Hadley, the OCME, the WCSD, the FBI, or SBI agreed with him.
Are there autopsy photos or sketches showing the location of the bullet wounds? I have seen nothing documented showing the trajectory of the bullet. Also, the bullet exit wound typically is larger if the bullet has time or impacts enough mass to expand , causing a larger diameter when exiting the body. The difference in size is speculative since there are no actual measurements listed by Dr. Richards.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013 at 8:49 AM @ madical professional said...

if you have any training it would be medical. excuse the one slip of a typo( grammar police)talk about discrepancies. Owens tells Richards both witnesses say Gene was playing Russian roulette and got the bad chamber. yet a luger was found conveniently located right between his shoulder blades and arms. was he shot in a car or outside? when Lois ran outside, immediately after one of the supposed witnesses ran in and told her Gene had shot himself, she said he was laying on the ground. she did not see a gun right beside him as reported. when the rescue squad got there she was holding Genes head in her lap in a red car, again no luger gun in site.
you keep making references about Dr Richards training. he was a licensed medical doctor. they require 6 years of medical school plus all his years of experience. he was county medical examiner and had performed many autopsies. after many reviews of his autopsies, if the NCOCME had deemed his work to be sloppy, im sure they would have advised county officials over the years to replace him. Dr Hadley, a licensed pathologists assisted him ,whether that was standard procedure or not or Dr Richards had requested his assistance. Im sure these two had done join autopsies many times. NOWHERE is there any documentation that Dr Hadley or ocme disagreed with dr Richards findings. he had no reason to lie about anything. he would not have kept this file all these years if he did not have serious suspicions about his shooting death. the only conflicting comments he made were about the time of the autopsy. and they were not necessarily conflicting. just a typo or recall about the time . I have tried to align myself, being right handed to see if I could line up a toy gun with my left hand , steady enough to shoot a perfectly straight line thru one temple to and exit out the other temple. its almost impossible . the angle of entry and exit , for a self inflicted wound, intentional or accidental would almost always be a different trajectory. a luger is either a 7.65 or 9 .00 mm caliber, that almost always makes a small hole on entry and a larger protruding hole on exit, if it makes it all the way thru.

Monday, September 30, 2013 at 10:18 AM Madical professional... said...

I don't actually have any "madical" training and I’m not exactly sure what that is; but I am completely capable of going online and reading reports of autopsies performed where the initial autopsy was performed and the entry/exit wounds were classified backwards until a trained forensic pathologist was able to review and correct the findings. Dr. Richards was only a family practitioner. He treats children with boo-boo’s and the sniffles. He was not a trained forensic pathologist. He was the least skilled professional in the investigation; but the one the most weight is given to in terms of reliability by the family. He is also the one person who has shown to be most inaccuracy; making comments that directly conflict his autopsy report.
Do you honestly think the FBI would do an investigation without attempting to review the Chief Medical Examiners notes, the WCSD investigation files, and anything performed by the SBI? These are trained professionals who investigate for a living. I understand doubting the WCSD; but the FBI too? I feel it was much more likely they would have reviewed any available information; especially since they were actively trying to prosecute RB. Why would they leave that on the table if they could pin it on him?
You’re also not accurately assessing the comments made by Mr. Matthews. It states “A compression pad was put around Gene’s HEAD”. He also makes no comments about “bagging the hands”. He states they bandaged his HEAD, put him on the bus, and rushed him to the hospital.
This was also a small caliber pistol round; not a large caliber/high velocity impact by a rifle cartridge. There would not have been a drastic difference between entry/exit wound size.

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 2:06 PM @ late night said...

he was dead from an apparent fatal wound. it is doubtful they would have bandaged it at all. the only reason they may have put a compression bandage on the exit wound was to prevent protruding brain tiisue from seeping on the gurney. they should have bagged the hands for powder burn residue and it doesnt take a rocket scientist to understand a small bullet hole is an entry wound if the exit wound is a large hole with brain tissue protruding outward. where did you get your madical training ? you seem to know more than a county medical examiner.
I’m sure they would have reviewed these documents and evidence before they made the assessment in regards to the supposed murder of Mr. Ward: “Investigation conducted in this regard, however, did not develop any facts to substantiate these allegations”.

I feel when the FBI reviewed the case in 1977; both the Medical Examiners’ reports and probably Dr. Hadley’s’ pathology reports were available. The FBI would have most likely also had access to the WCSD investigation notes and SBI polygraph results as well.

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 11:48 PM @ Dr. Hadley said...

Where are Dr. Hadley’s' documents showing that he agreed or disagreed with Dr. Richards? He may have notated he disagreed; but those documents have not been provided or located. You're making an assumption without evidence to support it. Also, the Chief Medical Examiner may have disagreed with Dr. Richards too; again those documents were destroyed and not available to confirm. Again, you're assuming without evidence to support your theory..
But I will say this. I feel when the FBI reviewed the case in 1977; both the Medical Examiners’ reports and probably Dr. Hadley’s’ pathology reports were available. The FBI would have most likely also had access to the WCSD investigation notes and SBI polygraph results as well. I’m sure they would have reviewed these documents and evidence before they made the assessment in regards to the supposed murder of Mr. Ward: “Investigation conducted in this regard, however, did not develop any facts to substantiate these allegations”.

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 12:33 PM @ Hadley apparently saw a problem also. said...

That is hearsay by Dr. Richards and no documents have been located to confirm this. Dr. Richards also made the observation that a right handed person cannot shoot themselves with their left hand and stated he was unaware of the shooting until 9:00 AM, but documented he was notified at 4:30 and viewed the body at 4:50 AM – which was also confirmed by the EMS worker. Dr. Richards statements do not match what Dr. Richards documented; but again this was 40 years ago and memories fade but documentation does not.

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 12:10 PM @@@tere was alot of late night entertainment back in those days said... said...

Ummm....who said I was a doctor? Not me, I said I document in patients charts all day and that’s exactly what I do. But, yes I did make several errors when posting from my phone. My apologies. I wasn't calling anyone out on their spelling so that jab seems a little immature to me. Back to the story, Richards couldn’t keep his facts straight so no I don’t think he's accurate in anything he says or may remember from 40 years ago at this point. So no I’m not calling him a liar, I’m calling him confused.

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 10:37 AM Late night entertainment said...

What? Are you attempting to say that when someone is shot, EMS only bandages the exit wound, not the entry wound?!? They would bandage one hole; and leave the other side open and exposed the the elements? That is ridiculous.
The weather on Sept 1, 1973 was between 72 and 92 degrees according to historical records. Please read the article directly left of Mr. wards article in the initial story printed Sept. 1, 1973. Right there it's even talking about the heat being in the mid 90's.
You watch too much CSI. Please educate yourself to the nature of powder burns and powder residue. It is not a fact that there is always powder burns or reside present on self inflicted gunshot wounds. This is the real world; not a tv show.
Now let me really twist your noodle...
What If Dr. Richards was wrong again? What if he got the entry and exit wounds backwards? It happens quite a bit; especially when the autopsy is being performed by someone with no formal training as a forensic pathologist; like Dr. Richards...

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 11:13 PM Hadley apparently saw a problem also. or is Dr Richards a liar? why would he lie? said...

Richards and Robert Hadley, a pathologist, viewed Gene’s body in the morgue.
"Bob and I pulled him out,” Richards said. Then both of them saw the problem

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 11:00 PM Late night entertainment. said...

We actually ran the southern 500 starting in 77 or 78. It was dead until about 1 am, picked up until around 2:30 -3:00 am, then died back down to nothing. Most people started leaving the dances and bars around one and stopped in for food on the way home.

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 10:52 PM @@tere was alot of late night entertainment back in those days said...

someone needs the grammar police besides me. " he only PREFORMED a visual exam". " so I think he is IRREVERENT in all this". Dr Richards report speaks for itself.Dr Hadley ( a pathologists) helped him with the autopsy. IMO if Dr Hadley had disagreed with Dr Richards assessment, he would have noted so. if the chief medical examiner in raleigh had disagreed with his assessment they would have stated so. you think and IYO he only did a visual observation. your opinion and your thinking should take precedent over the county medical examiner, a certified pathologists and the chief medical examiner. HEY YOU ARE THE DOCTOR. LOL

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 10:46 PM go to google and type in google newspaper archives said...

type in robin pridgen sheriff wilson county , hit search and read all the articles yourself detailing the massive corruption going on in sworn court testimony as reported by many newspapers. it will blow your mind. these guys were worse than John Gotti . you dont have to beleive all these stupid comments by either side

Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 7:41 PM @tere was alot of late night entertainment back in those days said...

I’ll let someone else address you on your other statements; I want to address you on Richards. That’s the problem you can’t “BET” on what Richards did or didn’t do. I document in patients charts daily. Documentation is the most important part of what any medical professional does to cover ourselves in case we are called into question later down the line on any particular patient or procedure performed. Dr. Richards didn’t document IF he even administered a test to test for gun powder residue. IMO he didn’t perform an actual test because if he had he would have documented that he did so. I think he only preformed a visual exam on Ward for gun powder residue. IMO Richards was sloppy in his documentation and not as thorough as he should have been which has caused many endless pain and frustration. Hadley has been deceased for over a decade as you know. He is not here to confirm or dispute any of Richards’s observations, statements or documentation. Hadleys signature is not on any documents agreeing with Richards assessments so I think he’s irreverent in all of this.

Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 10:23 AM @@ new information said...

Yes, I realize you don’t know but that doesn’t mean others (detectives) don’t know who it was administered to. Please submit documentation of the OCME blood storage and testing procedures in the seventies and why you believe them to be unreliable. There is no explanation that I am a where of why OCME would lie about the blood test being administered or the results since they are not affiliated with the WCSO and are not under their authority. So again why would OCME provide Ms. Holy with a false test? Holt contacted them directly through email correct? Someone said in a previous comment Gene Wards name wasn’t even on the blood test, but it clearly was so I guess some people are going to continue to lie and make up facts and make themselves look very untrustworthy. Why would Tony Ownes be given a polygraph? He said he wasn’t there. Have you found some type of proof to confirm he was there? If not then detectives don’t investigate (w/o proof) and spend taxpayer’s money to administer expensive tests on hearsay or feelings.

Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:24 AM tere was alot of late night entertainment back in those days said...

the moose lodge, shrine club, the american legion and i beleive a club that got burned down near Elm city was in operation at that time. many late night partiers went to the southern 500 for breakfast and to hang out after the dances ended around 1 to 2 am. a truckstop would be a beehive of activity allmost all night long on a friday night into saturday morning. 301 was the main drag north and sounth then (95 wasnt even open yet around wilson and rocky mt) truckers in and out, customers and prostitutes from the brothel accross the street. to be sure someone would have seen something or heard a gunshot other than these three supposed teenage witnesses hanging out all night. also the national wether service had the temp at between 71 and 67 degrees between 12 and 4 am. hardly sweating profusely weather. the compression bandage was put on the exit wound side of the head to prevent further brain tissue seepage( not on the entrance side of the wound). either way a point blank range shot would have shown signs of powder burns around and inside the entrance wound( forget the hands) and it was not. if DR Richards noted no powder burns in and around the entrance wound and it was relayed to him that this wasa self inflcted wound, I bet you he checked the hands as well. he or DR Hadley (the patholgist0 who assisted Dr Richards with the autopsy. none was noted on his report , afact he though seemed strange along with the fact the victim was right handed and the entrance wound was from the left side. not impossible , but not likely.

Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:47 PM @ new information said...

only one of the three supposed witnesses was given a polygraph(I assume it was one of the supposed witnesses) it doesnt state who it was or what they were questioned about during the polygraph. the Bac done in 1981 , eight years after Wards death , is really questionable. who ordered and why? Robin Pridgen had already been convicted and sent to federal prison several years earlier and the corrution investigation was already over with. shelf life for blood samples , in fact even donated blood ,was limited back in those days. the two living , I assume they are still living witnesses and Tony Owens need to be given a polygraph test, before any of them meet their demise. I wonder if detective Bissette has asked those three , just to clear up any doubts as to whether they would be willing to take a polygraph test and asnswer questions strictly pertaining to the events of that night and if Owens had any involvement or cover up for anyone pertaining to that event. if they would do that, and passed, barring any new evidence turning up , I for one would be satisfied. and I am not a family member of any of the parties in this story.

Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:13 PM @@curious said...

My point precisely, they don't know exactly what happened that night. I understand their frustration at so many different things being said from so many different people about the same incidents. It WAS 40 years ago, people are older and memories are not so sharp now. Not everyone who remembers the incident has all the answers or same memories. But a lot of "facts" in this case are speculation and hearsay. Such as your assumptions about me from a couple of comments! I was born in the 1950's; lived less than 5 miles from the Southern 500, so I COULD have been there, but I wasn't; I don't know the answers to your other questions and I won't pretend that I do. Trying to get answers to questions is one thing, but that no longer seems to be the case here. I'm not trying to belittle the Ward family's feelings, they obviously have suffered a lot of sadness in their lives, and want to take away some of that pain, but hurting others with insensitive comments isn't going to make their hurt go away. I wish them the best, but feel that their misfortunes have been exploited enough.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 8:40 PM New information said...

Reading the new information that has just been published draws new questions to the front of my mind.
If the WCSD was corrupt and trying to cover up a murder; why would they request the SBI to come in and do a polygraph test on one of the witnesses. Were they trying to get caught; or just really bad at covering up murders?
Let's remember, the polygraph was at the request of the WCSD; not Dr. Richards.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 12:09 PM BAC said...

Per Wikipedia:
200–299 mg/dL - Marked ataxia, slurred speech, poor judgement, labile mood, nausea and vomiting
This is the next step of intoxication above binge drinking.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM Back @ Curious… said...

Sorry, but you’re mistaken. I told you I would be here all the way to the end; but the person you’re commenting at was not me and I don’t know who it was. Apparently someone else sees through your shenanigans too.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 9:49 AM 250.000mg/dl of ETHANOL found in his system...... said...

Please folks go to the ticker and read and review the new documents that were put up today for yourselves:
Gene Ward had 250.000mg/dl of ethanol in his system at the time of his death. HE WAS WASTED!
A polygraph was administered and the witness passed; “The individual DID NOT show deception”
And my personal favorite:
“Years later the SBI did an interview trying to obtain information about the homicide. (The information received as the result of that interview WAS SECOND HAND AND LACKED ANY FACTUAL DETAIL THAT COULD LEAD TO ANY FURHER INVESTIGATION.)”

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 9:37 AM @@Curious said...

No, need to back pedal now. "His other daughter" said Ms. Holt came in wih a solved murder! That comment didn’t say she had any questions or theories. It said "SOLVED MURDER".

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 9:32 AM @Curious said...

Yes, you mean this lovely gem of a quote in the comment section written under the pseudonym “His other daughter” where she states they have solved this. Good, we can all go home now that they know Gene Ward accidentally shot himself. I wonder how Josh Bissette and the other detectives feel about being “schooled”. Ha!
“We aren't going away!My sister solved in one year what the Wilson county sheriffs dept couldn't in 40 years!The proudest day of my life was watching her school detectives!They came to the table with a post it my sister came with a solved murder!”

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 8:49 AM @ curious said...

@ curious. if the Ward family knew exactly what happened to thir dad and were in a position to make a clear statement of the details of that fateful night, this story would not be here and a new investigation going on. they may have ideas from some of the information they have obtained. you on the other hand, were not even born then , could not have been there , yet you have all the answers and intimate details, sweating profusely at 71 to 68 degrees outside , what happened to the gun and cartridge,how powder residue was completely removed by applying a compression bandage to the exit wound, how long he had been drinking and so on and so on. do you know what color underwear he was wearing and were they boxers or briefs?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 12:24 AM @ Remarks... said...

Why should I ask Dr. Richards? The WDT and Ms. Holt have been investigating this. It never occurred to them to compare statements to documents?
And I would never try to be a medical examiner. If Dr. Richards sets the bar; I'm far too over qualified. I know how to work a phone and read a clock...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 10:31 PM @ Narcotics said...

I do not infer that Mr. Ward was into narcotics. I read the FBI report.
In the memorandum dated 11/25 /1977 it states: "During interview with (blank) and (blank) reference was made to the fact that Obie Gene Ward was involved in narcotics and as a result the possibility existed Obie Gene Ward attempted to identify suppliers of drugs to (blank)."
If you disagree with my assessment; please clarify. If you think he was involved in "gathering information for the WCSO" please explain how or why he would have started doing that. Typically, people begin snitching on others because they have been busted and are looking a way out. You know; just like Mr. Wards brother did when the FBI arrested him some years later.
Plus lets remember YOUR theory was that the WCSD had him killed. Why would they do that if he was a valuable informant snitching for them?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 10:17 PM Curious said...

I would love to hear or read a clear statement from the Ward family detailing what happened to their dad on that night. I believe Ms. Cain stated her sister had solved more in one year than others has in 40 years. Please get that statement and publish it, I'm sure many others are interested in reading it as well.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 8:41 PM @ narcotics ? said...

where do you infer Gene Ward was involved with narcotics. sounds like Gene Ward was not involved with narcotics but gathering information on the WCSO involvement that may have been a reason to have him silenced.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 7:51 PM @@@@@@@@everyone was on the take said...

she was honest about shooting her boyfriend. why wouldn't she be honest about drinking and having sex with FBI agent. if she didnt have this contact with the FBI and SBI agent , how would she know their names?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 7:45 PM @ Dr richards remarks. said...

why dont you ask Dr Richards? sounds like you know more about autopsies and proper procedure than he does. maybe you should be the county medical examiner? what do you do for a living. if i were you I would go apply to be county medical examiner. LOL

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 7:41 PM Dr. Richards remards said...

Why on earth did Dr. Richards state he was unaware of Mr. Ward being at the hospital until he arrived at a.m? His autopsy notes state he was contacted at 4:30 a.m and he viewed the body at 4:50 a.m. Also, the EMS worker Marvin Matthews stated in A Call for Help:
"We stayed around,” Matthews said. "It took a long time for Dr. Richards to come to the hospital to check him out.”
Matthews doesn’t know if deputies with the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office were already at the Southern 500 when he and Lamm arrived. He also doesn’t remember if deputies questioned him at the hospital or later. Matthews and Lamm returned to service at 5:10 a.m., based on the call log. “
Notice that Matthews and Lamm returned to work at 5:10 a.m.? Let’s review what Dr. Richards said again.
“He’d arrived at the hospital around 9 a.m. the morning of Sept. 1, 1973 to make his rounds completely unaware a body was waiting for him in the hospital’s morgue even though Richards was the medical examiner on call that holiday weekend. “
Also let’s look at what else Mr. Matthews stated…
"We picked him up and rushed to the hospital,” Matthews said.
Gene had been shot in the head, brain tissue extruding from his skull. Matthews felt for a pulse. A compression pad was put around Gene’s head. “
Is that why during Dr. Richards visual exam; he could not locate any power burns/residue on the body? Let’s remember it was 90+/- degrees those days and he had been outside drinking for 5 hours. Then they wrapped his head with a compression pad. It appears to me that any residue may have been wiped away while trying to save him.
Why are Dr. Richards remarks so far out of tune with everyone else involved?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 2:31 PM @@@@@ everyone was on the take at that time said...

Yes, I read that in the article; then I also read this in the same article.
“Clark said Mrs. O’Barr would do anything to get Gerald Frazier and had admitted that she disliked him and ONCE SHOT HIM!!!!!”
A gun toting prostitute that ADMITTED TO SHOOTING A PERSON...she’s IMO not a good reference.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 1:35 PM Now servicing #2 said...

Are you kidding me? You live in another state. What makes you think that the Southern 500 was an all night beehive of activity at 4am? This place is dead by 2am even on weekends today; let alone 40 years ago when there was nothing to do that late.
Russian roulette was only mentioned by Dr. Richards and not supported by any other evidence provided – and we know how inaccurate his statements can be. We don’t even know this was said.
Why would the shell casing of a 40 year old self inflicted shooting be kept after the investigation was closed after they determined he shot himself?
Where is ANY evidence to support the NEW theory he was shot somewhere else and dumped at the Southern 500? You’re really grabbing at straws now.
By the officers statements a gun WAS found at the scene (the aforementioned Luger you refer to). Where is any evidence it was NOT found? The fact that the WCSD does not still have it? They would NOT keep it once the case was closed after determining he shot himself. It would have been offered back to the widow and destroyed if she declined to take it; just like every other self shooting they investigate.
The races at night were on the street and only when someone happened to come by who wanted to race. Where was this local dance you refer to?
Yes, 3 people saw him waving a gun around. How many more do you need?
How did he know so much about the rackets when he had only been here a year? Was he directly involved in them some how?
Your questions have no substance and are completely speculative. They hold no bearing or weight on anything to do with the investigation.
Thank you… Please come again…

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 1:33 PM Everyone wasn't on the take said...

So now the theory appears to be that the FBI and SBI agents covered up a murder because they were enjoying sex with prostitutes. Then they turned around and prosecuted the Sherriff who was protecting them for taking bribes and racketeering… I don't understand you're reasoning here.
Where is the EVIDENCE that any FBI, SBI, or WCSD officer considered it possible that Mr. Ward was shot by someone other than himself? Why would they even have covered this up?
There seems to be a lot of effort being put on trying to bash, belittle, and silence people who question this story but no effort put into trying to resolve the lingering questions. I also do not see where any evidence or facts have been given to support the claim that someone shot this man; only misinformation and faded memories. After 12 articles; there should be some type of evidence to supplement this theory; not speculation and conspiracy theories.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 12:43 PM @@ everyone was on the take at that time said...

the article was under google newspapaer archives in the robesonian, a lumberton newspaper. in court testimony a MS. OBARR, a prostitute and brothel cpoperator testified she met FBI agent Bob Prince and SBI agent Bill Dowdy on a side road to exchange information. they started drinking and she and Prince had sex. she set SBI agent Dowdy up with a fellow prostitute and they went to the holiday inn.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 11:09 AM Back at'cha... said...

Guess what...
I'm not going anywhere either.
How can you expect me not to?
You come in with no evidence to support ridiculous theories and blame people I’m associated with for things they did not do. I am absolutely going to hound you every step of the way. But don’t just take it out on me. There are others up here also making great points and shooting holes in your shenanigans. Even the people initially supporting your cause to “find the truth” have evaporated. They’re gone because they see how tainted this story has become. You claim to search for the truth but you’re really just looking place blame on anyone but your father – for his own actions.
You have upset my family and friends. You lie and lay false claims against people you do not know and do not care if you hurt. Your father shot himself. I’m sorry for your loss. But that does not excuse you for your actions. You want closure? Accept what your father did and move on with your life. Good people make poor choices all the time. Your father was no exception.
This is my promise to you… I am going to tear this story apart every step of the way. I'm going to analyze every comment you make, every bone headed theory you try to imply, and every poorly written article that you do not make a valid point or provide legitimate evidence to support. That being said; I’m open to evidence and proof. I (unlike you) will not lie or twist the facts, but I am going to point out every flaw in your statements and I am going to follow this all the way to the end.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 11:06 AM said...

Is this the same Gene Person that was convicted of AWDW and communicating threats?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 10:58 AM @ just curious said...

It's Brother Vs Brother In Nc Primaries Vote .?
The Robesonian - May 1, 1978
Wilson County Sheriff Robin Pridgen, faces his brother, Thomas, an insurance . salesman, and three other opponents today in a race that may be tainted by a ... OBTW Wayne Gay was a nephew of Pridgens by marriage somewhere down the line.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 10:28 AM Narcotics? said...

Am I reading the f.b.i. report correctly? Obie Ward was into narcotics too?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 11:14 PM Question... said...

So I've been reading this for some time now. I see the generic accusations made in the articles and comments and one thing in particular stands out.
Why does the Ward family not come out with a straight forward statement addressing who they think shot their father and why?
I can tell you why. They obviously have reservations about the accuracy of their statements and accusations. They know that when they cross that bridge; there will be lawsuits flying from every direction.
Please. Tell us WHO shot Mr. Ward. You have it figured out after 3 years of research. Id personally love to hear it straight from the horses mouth.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 11:10 PM @ no one said... said...

Again, your comments are not accurate.
His other daughter made the comment under "Hidden in a box of memories" - It wasn't a fair fight. They snuck up on him because they were afraid of him.
Who snuck up in him? There were only 3 witnesses and that was the teenagers.
Lisa Ward Cain also made the comment under "Stories start changing" - Seriously! Simply dont read it if you don't see the relevance of murderers walking amongst you in your city to It happened forty years ago but the people who did this are alive and well with the exception of one from what Inunderstand Karma caught up with him!
Really? Who did karma catch up with?
Then there was the infamous comment calling one of the witnesses a cold blooded murderer; specifically by name.
So again, please stop the spin. We can read and follow along. The Ward family has been on the attack since day one. Now the story is out and people are shooting holes in the non-sense and not feeling the sympathy they once had because of the way innocent people have been slandered.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 11:01 PM @everyone was on the take that time  said...

Which agent was that? I'm fairly sure it wasn't Martin. Can you post those articles so I can review them please?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 11:00 PM Actually said...

I think the FBI statement claiming there were no facts to support the claim Mr. Ward was shot by someone else is pretty solid evidence that it didn't happen. I trust the investigative abilities of the FBI much more so than the WDT and Ms. Holt. This holds especially true after seeing what they try to pass off as evidence.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 10:28 PM In regards to Mr. Ward’s brother claiming that Obey had been killed; even the FBI stated “Investigation conducted in this regard, however, did not develop any facts to substantiate these allegations”. said...

im sure the WCSO at the time agreed there was no case as far as they were concerned. and just because the FBI did not DEVELOPE any facts proving the allegations dont mean they didnt happen.

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 8:57 PM everyone was on the take that time said...

one of the prostitutes testified in sworn court , she had sex with one of the investigating FBI agents and named him and said she set up an SBI agent( named also in court testimony)
with one of her fellow prostitutes. so you reckon even some of the local SBI and FBI agents might have been on the take also and may have let some incriminating issues slide by? IM just saying. to be sure they were fired

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 8:52 PM Sept ! , 1973 was a Saturday morning said...

followed by a friday night that would have been a busy ,all night, beehive of activity at the Southern 500 truck stop. truckers in and out , students and late night patrons stopping in to eat after the drag races or a night of drinking and partying at a local dance. the place had to have been packed inside and out and on the second story patio ? where there any other witnesses than these teenagers? did nyone hear a gunshot other than theses teens? did anyone other than these teens see Ward waving around a gun, beit a revolver or LUGAR, playing russian roulette, as detective Tony Owens related to Dr Richards the medical examner ? was a gun found ? if so was it a LUGAR? was a spent cartridge found near the body ? if not what happened to it? was Ward shot somewhere else like the sandpit or rock quarry or down a lonely country road and his body dumped out on the asphalt parking lot of the truck stop and a gun planted beside him, in retaliation for a threat or that he knew too much about the rackets? so many unanswered questions . perhaps this time a proper investigation will turn up the truth. I hope and pray so for this familys sake .

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 8:45 PM @ confused said...

at the time proving widespread corruption by the WCSO was proving to be easier and evidence of Wards suspicous death may have become more clear as the extent of the massive corruption investigation unfolded.

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 8:25 PM no one has said 3 teenagers pulled off this murder. said...

they may have known something about it and in fear of retribution lied to cover u for someone else.

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 8:18 PM @ huh and confused and comments said...

you have an answer for everything dont you? if it defends you position or persons you are trying to defend. why dont you just shut up and wait until this investigation is over. this story and this investigation are not going anywhere, until all efforts are exhausted to find the truth, not necessarily your version of the truth, as badly as you your family and friends may hope that it would disappear.

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 7:32 PM FBI documents said...

Mr. Ward was also apparently involved in narcotics?
This is on top of being a violent, drunk, weapon carrying wife stalker who marries 14 year olds (on their 14th birthday. His brother was up for a federal warrant for his arrest and dad hid behind trees yelling someone was out to get him. You just can't make this stuff up...
He should have ran for congress instead of working at a garage. It sounds like he was a Kennedy!

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 6:32 PM huh?... said...

In regards to Mr. Ward’s brother claiming that Obey had been killed; even the FBI stated “Investigation conducted in this regard, however, did not develop any facts to substantiate these allegations”.
The sherriffs' office and FBI agree there is no case. I don't understand why this story is even still in the paper.

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:48 PM @ TheHotCorner said...

Indeed; that is a good point. I also fail to see how 3 teenage witnesses could pull off a murder and not get caught after being investigated by the Sherriff’s office, SBI, and FBI. Those kids were either some of the greatest master-minds in NC history; or they were telling the truth.

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:35 PM Comments said...

I see several comments about the death certificate provided.
Where is the state issued death certificate? The one that was finalized after the case was investigated. The only one I see is the one filed by Dr. Richards before the ME performed their autopsy; not the typed copy provided by the Office of Vital Statistics. Was this a simple oversight?...
It's hard to argue what the death certificate states; when there hasn't been one provided. All we have is the initial Medical Examiners certificate of death.

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 2:32 PM Stop with the misrepresenting, it’s starting to sound silly! said...

“however word has it that state and federal agencies as well as the new unbiased, honest and untainted current WCSO investigation, are looking into Wards death again to see if anything was missed due to the current publicity surrounding this series of newspaper articles highlighting the suspicious death during the same time period”
I keep seeing this comment OVER and OVER again. So why haven’t the FBI and SBI picked up this case again? If the FBI and SBI are looking into the case why waste the time of the WCSO?
Reality check: The SBI and FBI aren’t reviewing this case (again) and we all know it. The EVIDENCE does not exist for either agency to be interested. And “the current publicity”. What publicity? The WDT picked up this story to fill their paper, some light reading to pass the time until the holiday season starts up or another young man gets killed in a gang fight. Is all you have to do is a google search of Obie Gene Ward's name and NOTHING comes up other than the WDT series or articles. Sheesh!!!

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 11:56 AM TheHotCorner said...

OK, so the Ward family believes that someone is covering up facts that indicate that Gene Ward possibly was murdered. That would mean that the Ward family doesn't believe the three teenage witnesses that gave their eyewitness accounts to the WCSD. Obviously, if the original story is false, then you have to go back to the witnesses. Trying to blame a coverup on the sheriffs office is reaching when you have actual witnesses.

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 11:47 AM @ confused said...

You're comments make no sense. Why on earth would they put a murder investigation on hold to try and convict someone of taking bribes and tax evasion? That’s absurd.
If they had any evidence or suspicion of murder or a cover up; they would have jumped on that before anything else.
A small handful of people seem to think that posting the same garbage over and over again will legitimize their claims to try and substantiate their claims of murder. Unfortunately; some of us are intelligent enough to see through it.
There are numerous conflicting stories; unfortunately, most seem to be coming from Dr. Richards himself. His stories don’t match anyone else; and yet he is the one the family chooses to believe.
No where in the information provided does it state no weapon was found. This was unsubstantiated rumor started in the comments section by a family member. According to the officer; the weapon was retrieved. It was stated that the EMS worker and the widow did not SEE one. Why would they? Their focus was on Mr. Ward.
Please stop trying to twist the statements and mislead people just to push your agenda. This is supposed to be a search for the truth. You cannot find truth if you misrepresent the evidence and make claim false accusations as the truth.

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 9:59 AM @ so said...

the only investigating that needs to be done now is to find out if Mr Ward was murdered or not. the rest is a matter of federal indictments, public records , court documents and sworn court testimony. this time the focus of the investigation is Mr Wards death exclusively and not the former WCSO corruption scandal. however word has it that state and federal agencies as well as the new unbiased, honest and untainted current WCSO investigation, are looking into Wards death again to see if anything was missed due to the current publicity surrounding this series of newspaper articles highlighting the suspicious death during the same time period . there is no time limit on murder and conspiracy and aiding and abetting murder.

Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 8:21 PM @@ inquiring mind said...

I have read only ONE statement by a witness; you can read the article in the WDT under the follow up story. The witness did NOT say Mr. Ward was playing Russian Roulette OR say he committed suicide. Those statements were made by others in a "he said, she said" manner. So, I'm confused as to where statements referring to misstatements by the witnesses are coming from. Dr. Richards said he wasn't made aware of Mr. Ward's body in the morgue till 9:00 the next morning, but his report states he was informed at 4:30 that morning and he viewed the body at 4:50 a.m. There are many conflicting stories in this case, but again, I don't see those conflicting comments being made by the witnesses. The FBI investigation shown through the link in this article found no evidence of murder or cover up in their investigation into Mr. Ward's death. Unfortunately, this is the only official documentation of this event. I wish the hands of everyone there that night HAD been tested for gun powder residue, but apparently, they weren't. After 40 years, it's understandable that people's memories are failing. I wish the family all the best and hope they will be able to find peace with their lives. Enough innocent people have been hurt by this series of articles, and I just can't imagine that is going to ease the Ward family's pain at all. However, the supposed suspicions of a convicted felon who began squealing like a stuck pig trying to keep himself out of prison are not proof of a murder or cover up.

Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 6:01 PM @ confused said...

you are not confused. the Robin Pridgen corruption scandal investigation was a very long drawn out investigation that included many agencies . the initial look at Wards death ,led to a massive investigation of corruption, bribery and racketeering of the WCSO . Wards suspicious death was put on the back burn as the scope of a multi state prostitution ring and the large scale of other illegal activity became clear. the protection and bribery and other illegal activities by former chief deputy and sheriff Robin Pridgen and his chief deputy Tony Owens and other WCSO personnel took over priority.

Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 5:24 PM So said...

This is investigative reporting Wilson style I guess. One sided reporting written to promote one side or theory and from one point of view. Where is the "investigative" work. It's nothing more than lazy regurgitation. Like most articles in this paper, it sensationalism masked as journalism to sell papers. Journalism is truly a lost are which died its death in 2000.

Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 3:37 PM bothered reader said...

IS this all we have to read??? .. someone writing articles which are made up of untruths and hear say and twisted memories in our local trusted paper . Im disappointed that such garbage can be published without any proven facts to back up the story. I for one.. know that these facts about Pridgen are totaly wrong .

Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 2:40 PM @ inquiring mind said...

their are numerous conflicting stories as to if and what kind of gun was found. his widow Lois states she ran out, after being informed by one of the supposed witnesses that Gene had shot himself, and she saw him lying on the ground and no gun was found. the ambulance attendant said he didn't see one. Tony Owens, the detective who wanted DR Richards to change his report to suicide from pending, due to his suspicions about the autopsy, first said he wasn't their and didn't handle the investigation. another detective Hawley says he did and then he says Robin may have handled it himself as he usually handled cases where he may have had a personal interest. Owens later tells DR Richards, Ward shot himself while playing Russian roulette. later it is said the weapon found was a German Lugar, which is a semi automatic pistol with a clip , that would be impossible to play Russian roulette. Lois , Genes widow state gene owned a revolver. a lot of suspicion regarding all the misstatements by witnesses and conflicting WCSO personnel leave a lot of unanswered questions . that is why im sure this family and a lot of us Wilson County citizens want to find out the truth finally.

Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 12:52 AM Inquiring Mind... said...

If Gene Ward committed suicide by stated by officials...why was a gun not found on...around or even near him? You could was stolen...but a missing suicide weapon...very suspicious.

Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 11:46 PM Investigation... said...

Why does the reporter keep stating facts provided by Holt? I thought this was an investigative piece. Where is the investigating and leg work by the wdt? This really is sounding far too one sided the more it drags in.

Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 6:37 PM Confused. said...

Why does reading this story give the impression that somehow Gene Ward shooting himself lead to Pridgen being brought down? Why does it seem as tho the story keeps trying to link a self shooting in 1973 to a sheriff investigation in 1978? It feels like this story has lost its way; starting with a man shooting himself, the to a crooked sherriffs office and a totally different truck stop being linked together with prostitution and bribery.
Im confused as to why they keep getting mentioned jn this story but no evidence to support them being related is offered.

Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 6:29 PM money wasted........ said...

I have a gold fish....

Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 3:57 PM To Taxpayer said...

Wayne gay was not Robin Pridgen's nephew. No relation what so ever. Get your story straight.

Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 11:54 AM @ unknown said...

I don't know why people have to embellish Robin Pridgens background. there is more than enough public records , documents and court testimony to prove he and his administration were one of the most crooked sheriffs offices in the history of the state of NC. search google newspaper archives and enter robin pridgen Wilson county sheriff and read all the articles detailing all the corruption going on during his tenure. it will absolutely blow your mind. these guys were worse than the mafia. there is no need for anyone to exaggerate Mr Pridgen and his administrations past actions.

Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 11:26 AM @ taxpayer said...

Wayne Gay was Robin Pridgen's nephew. he had very little law enforcement experience, serving as a reserve deputy, while he was a clerk at Brown & Williamson Tobacco company. as favor to Gays father Vonny, Pridgen appointed him a detective with the WCSO in 1976, a few years later he appointed him lieutenant of detectives. everyone in Wilson County knew about all the corruption going on for years here, I was an out of town , college student , at ACC, and I knew about it. everyone that is except apparently chief of detectives Wayne Gay, who seemed oblivious to all the crooked stuff, his uncle and mentor , Sheriff Pridgen and a lot of his dept were involved in going on right under his nose. . after Pridgen was indicted , Gay disappeared during all the unpleasantness of the corruption trial and aftereffect. Louis Taylor , a NCHP trooper was appointed Sheriff, to clean up the Bill Thompson, Robin Pridgen, Tony Owens and Wayne Gay mafia corruption mess. Gay later returns and with the help of few crony Lawyers and wealthy backers squeezes out a 5 way race in a runoff to succeed his federal prison incarcerated uncle. he established a lot of political power through favors and cronyism and favoritism over the years and with Wilson county being an overwhelmingly democratic majority , with no viable democratic opposition and running unchallenged, most of the time, he hung onto power for another 6 terms until current sheriff and former SBI special agent Calvin Woodard overwhelmingly defeated him and a handpicked candidate , they managed to get on the ballot after Gay was soundly defeated in the Democratic Primary.

Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 11:16 AM Thanks said...

Thank you Wilson for printing this story, it's nice to know that they are people who care.

Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 11:34 PM Unknown said...

Why is it that even the simple facts in this article are not true about Pridgen ..yet they are published? He never lived where they are stating he lived.. he never paid alimony to an xwife in another state. This article is just Craziness with a capital C...Why build a case against a dead man? Surviving Siblings at 90 crying while reading their morning paper is all there is to accomplish at this point.

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 8:40 PM just curious said...

Wasn't Gene Pearson fired from the Wilson sheriff's department by Pridgen? Pridgen never had an ex wife he was paying alimony to in another state. Who was Pridgen's brother that was running against him in 1978? Where is British Woods? I have never heard of this development in Wilson. Pridgen lived on his wife's farm on her homeplace. Sounds like someone has an ax to grind against Pridgen.

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 7:22 PM Tax payer said...

Want wayne v gay a detective around that time before he came sheriff in 1982

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 7:21 PM Pridgen was... said...

prosecuted and paid for his crimes. Truth printed? This article has nothing to do with the truth. It's been a witch hunt from day one. Leave him alone.
And it's "Good-BYE" and "Good RiDDance". Funny how you can't spell the word "bye" but you're smart enought to solve a murder investigation? Nice...

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 3:21 PM Are we adults or are we children? said...

These comments are stupid and immature. Are we all going to continue to throw spitballs at each other like 8 year olds? I would like to see us all have a civil and mature discussion about this case no matter what each commenter’s opinions are regarding this case.

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 3:00 PM Big C said...

You would make false accusations against the dead and ridiculous statements in a news paper if your daddy was murdered? I don't get it but OK.
The difference is; their dad wasn't murdered.

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 2:21 PM @ Well said...

To you and everyone else griping and moaning about these articles.....GOOD BUY and GOOD RIDANCE!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 2:17 PM Another @ Wilson Mom said...

I agree. If you don't like it, DO NOT READ IT. I find this case fascinating to read EVERY DAY because as we ALL know there was major corruption in the sheriff's office under Pridgen. Too bad he isn't alive to face the consequences of his actions. I'm glad to see some TRUTH printed without fear. I hope through this story that this woman can find some peace and closure with what truly happened to her father. Keep printing WDT!

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 1:19 PM unknown said...

Pridgen paid his time..and is no longer living. The only purpose in this at this point is to hurt his repected family and his siblings that are now in their 90's.

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 1:11 PM Well said...

I am going away.

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 12:41 PM big C said...


Friday, September 20, 2013 at 11:03 AM go to google archive search said...

and enter Robin Pridgen. read ALL the articles about the decades old WCSO corruption. these guys were worse than the mafia with racketeering ,intimidation and a whole lot of other crooked sh..stuff. amazing how widespread corruption could have gone on for so long.

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 10:36 AM @ WILSON MOM said...


Friday, September 20, 2013 at 10:22 AM WILSON MOM said...


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