Greenville (NC) police lose evidence in 1975 Looper murders amid review of the case

Greenville Police Department has been unable to find the evidence after searching investigator work stations, case files, and storage areas.

December 5, 2019

A recently discovered letter that could implicate a former Greenville County sheriff and members of his team in the 1975 murder of a deputy and his father is missing.

Greenville police found the letter in a stack of documents while cleaning out storage lockers at the Law Enforcement Center in April 2018, and subsequently lost it, according to a statement the department sent Thursday.

The letter appeared to be addressed to late Sheriff Cash Williams from one of his mistresses, and indicated he was involved in the murder of Frank and Rufus Looper, as well as framing the man ultimately convicted in the slayings, Police Chief Ken Miller told the Greenville Public Safety Review Board during a July meeting.

According to the statement, the Greenville Police Department has been unable to find the evidence after searching investigator work stations, case files, and storage areas. Miller has requested another agency to investigate the folder's disappearance, but the statement did not specify which agency.

Police spokeswoman Lt. Alia Paramore declined to disclose when the evidence was first reported missing and which agency was assisting in the investigation.  

Wakefield, who has maintained his innocence since his conviction, was released on parole in 2010 after spending 34 years in prison.

Miller gave the letter to Greenville cold case investigators for review before it went missing, the statement said.

During the meeting in July, Miller also said he asked the North Carolina Project for Actual Innocence, a nonprofit dedicated to exonerating people convicted of crimes they did not commit, to work with Greenville police in reviewing the case in light of the new evidence.

Miller could not return a call for comment.

Charles Wakefield was convicted of murder in the double homicide in 1976, about a year after Lt. Frank Looper, Greenville County's chief narcotics investigator at the time, and his father Rufus were found shot to death in the garage adjoining their Greenville home.

Wakefield, who has maintained his innocence since his conviction, was released on parole in 2010 after spending 34 years in prison.

Miller gave the letter to Greenville cold case investigators for review before it went missing, the statement said.  During the meeting in July, Miller also said he asked the North Carolina Project for Actual Innocence, a nonprofit dedicated to exonerating people convicted of crimes they did not commit, to work with Greenville police in reviewing the case in light of the new evidence.

"It is still possible that this information is bogus, that this information has nothing to do with anything other than a lovers' spat, if you will," he's heard saying in a recording of the meeting. "But there is nothing in the case file that suggests that this letter was ever submitted and vetted, which is a big concern and a big red flag."

Miller also asked another agency to aid in a ballistic review of a handgun that is potentially linked to the murders. Greenville investigators obtained that gun Oct. 31.

The police department is still evaluating the information the letter contained, the statement said. The agency is reviewing and revising security, access and file protocols after the evidence went missing.

Haley Walters covers public safety, crime and breaking news. Email her at and follow her on Twitter @_haleywalter

Conor Hughes is a public safety reporter with The Greenville News. Contact him via email at or on Twitter @ConorJHughes.

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