Murder In Mayberry


All was not quiet last weekend in the quaint little town of Mayberry, N.C. Far from it. Barney would have needed all his bullets, and then some.

Actually, Mayberry was inspired by a little town in North Carolina called Mt. Airy.  Mt. Airy is a community where it’s not uncommon to see Otis, the town drunk, strolling the sidewalks talking to tourists, or where families watch Andy’s old patrol car cruise by while they’re grabbing a bit to eat in the diner.

Sunday, while many children were still pawing through mounds of candy they’d received the night before, Marcos Chavez Gonzalez (above photo) busied himself by loading the magazine in a high-powered rifle, likely an assault rifle. He carried that weapon to an area behinds Woods TV, a Mt. Airy retail business located in the town’s historic district, and took aim at four men who were in the parking lot. Gonzales opened fire on the men, killing two instantly. Two others died at the hospital. Each victim had been shot multiple times.

In a matter of seconds, Gonzales, who had previously served time in prison for kidnapping, had committed the largest mass murder in Mt. Airy’s history.  Four men laid among bullet casings and blood while Gonzales fled the scene driving a green and brown Ford F350 pickup truck. He was arrested early Monday morning just across the Virginia state line in Henry County.

Now, how did the police in a small town of 8,700 residents, with a police chief who’d only been on the job for 30 days, solve this murder so quickly? And how did they locate their suspect in a matter of hours after he’d committed the crime?


Sure, crime scene investigators were on the scene. And they, along with officers from the sheriff’s office, SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) and other agencies worked together gathering evidence, combing the crime scene for clues, issuing BOLOs (Be On The Lookout), and doing everything thing else forensic that CSI could possibly dream of, within reason. But what was the smoking gun; the one clue that led police to this killer? I’ll give you a hint. It was the same thing that solves nearly all criminal cases. No, not DNA. Not fingerprints. Not trace evidence. Not luminol.


Actually, the case was solved in the tradition of all former cases in the fictional town of Mayberry. Yep, police cracked this case just like old Andy and Barney would have done. They worked nonstop, talking to people and asking for their help. And lo and behold, someone called and told them where Gonzales had gone to hide. Police then arrested the killer without incident.  Now that’s good police work!

A good investigator knows how to talk to people – all people. More importantly, a good investigator is a good listener. All the CSI bells and whistles in the world cannot make a good investigator. Being human does.

Good job, Guys.

4 replies
  1. SZ
    SZ says:

    Good job those investigators. What a shame for those 4 people and their families. What on earth did this man think he was going to solve ?

  2. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Obviously, the case is still under investigation, so police are keeping quiet about many of the details. However, Mt. Airy police chief Dale Watson has said that he believes the shooter knew each of the victims. He also does not believe this was a random event and that there was a motive for the killings.

  3. RhondaL
    RhondaL says:

    Nice to be reminded that small town (and small budget) departments have the means to solve crimes without all the CSI bells&whistles. Although they DO need the budget for manpower to go around and talk to people. But they don’t need the whizz-bang gizmos.

    But I’m so sorry to hear that such rage has erupted in “Mayberry.” So sad when a small town loses its innocence. Just goes to show that random (unless he knew the victims) violence can happen anywhere.

    Has it come out yet that the victims were specific targets?

  4. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Let me add an amen to that last paragraph, Lee. Talking to people is the key. That’s how cases are usually made.

    I worked burglary for about eight years, and can remember probably less than five cases that were made on fingerprints. But, even then, you have to show the suspect had no legitimate reason to leave the prints where they did. That’s where questioning the suspect comes in handy.

    Again, it’s about talking to people.

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