A sad and twisted case of murder
By Kirk Ross
According to a Silver Alert issued for him more than a month ago, 20-year-old Joshua McCabe Bailey was last seen on Weaver Street at 2 p.m. on July 21.
Last week, Bailey’s remains were uncovered off Big Woods Road in Chatham County, and now six young men are charged in his abduction and killing, the parents of one of those charged are facing accessory charges and a young woman and three of those charged in the Bailey case are facing kidnapping charges in a bizarre related abduction and assault.
According to a statement issued Monday, Investigator Tim Horne of the Orange County Sheriff’s office and agents from the State Bureau of Investigation learned that Bailey had been shot and killed and his body buried in a wooded area off Twisted Oak Drive, a dead-end street off Bethel Hickory Church Grove Road.
On Thursday, investigators searched the site, but did not find Bailey’s body. They learned that night that the body had been moved to Chatham County. On Friday, they located the grave at a site off Big Woods Road and were assisted by an N.C. State professor of anthropology in excavating the site and recovering the remains.
Bailey was identified through dental records by the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s office, which also determined that he had been shot.
Charged Monday with first-degree murder and kidnapping are Brian Gregory Minton, 18, Jacob Alexander Maxwell, 18, Brandon Hamilton Green, 26, Ryan Ladar Davis Lee, 20, and Jack Johnson II, 19, all of Chapel Hill. Police also charged Sarah Krombach, 23, of Chapel Hill with first-degree kidnapping of Matt Johnson, 21, of Wilmington, who investigators believe shot Bailey. He was charged Tuesday.
Also charged with being an accessory after the fact are Brian Minton’s parents, Gregory Lee Minton, 41, and Mishele Slade Minton, 37, of Chapel Hill and Chris Manley, 23, of Carrboro. The Mintons own Minton’s BP in Glen Lennox.
The break in the case appeared to come when one of the men charged — believed to be Matt Johnson but listed in warrants as “CSI,” for confidential source of information — told his story to investigators after being kidnapped, beaten and threatened with death at a Pittsboro autobody shop.
Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall said the case is complex, with multiple crime scenes and so many individuals involved. He said he and his staff could not recall a murder case in Orange County with so many people associated with it.
The investigation continues, Woodall said. “It literally changes minute to minute, hour to hour. It’s still developing.”
The next step, he said, is for investigators to assemble reports so that he and his staff can make an assessment about when the case can be taken to the grand jury. Woodall said normally he would wait until all the reports are completed, but that the case is so complicated he may not wait for the reports to be finished and may decide to take it to the grand jury within the next two to three weeks.
Woodall would not say whether investigators know why Bailey was killed.
The timeline of events, spelled out in multiple search warrants, indicates that a confidential informant told investigators that on July 29 Bailey was taken to a secluded, wooded area across a creek from Twisted Oak Drive. The informant said a hole had been dug and that Bailey “was ordered to stand in a depression in the ground which had been formed by an uprooted tree and was shot there.” His body was then covered up, the informant told investigators.
Last Wednesday, the informant took investigators to the site where SBI investigator P.A. Stevens observed “a depressed, excavated area near a stump which also contained three plastic bags.” Upon opening the bags, police noticed “the distinct odor of decomposition” and that the bags contained a quantity of soil.
Warrants filed against Gregory Lee Minton say he assisted those charged with Bailey’s kidnapping and murder in that he “instructed the principals that Muriatic Acid could be used to destroy evidence of the crime and that it could be obtained from Lowe’s Home Improvement.”
Charges against Mishele Minton state that she assisted by “driving [the principals] to Lowe’s Home Improvement to obtain the Muriatic Acid.”
Charges against Manley state that he “assisted the principals in agreeing to meet them in Chatham County and assist in digging the grave site there . . .”
The strangest twist in the case so far is the description in search warrants of Matt Johnson’s alleged kidnapping and beating by Brian Minton, Jack Johnson II, Maxwell and Lee.
According to the warrants, Matt Johnson was allegedly taken to a body shop in Pittsboro owned by Sarah Krombach’s uncle, where he was choked with a chain, bound with duct tape and beaten with a metal pipe. Brian Minton also allegedly threatened to kill him while holding a revolver to his head.
Matt Johnson allegedly was then taken back to Krombach’s home on Bristol Drive in Chapel Hill, where he was left upstairs unbound. The next morning, he used a black Sharpie marker to write a note that he was being held against his will on a cue ball and threw it out the window.
The warrants then state that Matt Johnson was taken to his mother’s house to obtain “collateral,” including a Playstation, some clothes and some personal papers. He was then taken to an office building to meet his mother and obtain money. The warrant says Matt Johnson fled to nearby Foxcroft Apartments to call his mother to come pick him up. She then drove him to the Chapel Hill police station.