Wilmington man charged in GA for murder of father in 2002 - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

DNA leads to arrest of man charged with murder of father in2002

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Waylon Vernon Russell (Source: WPD) Waylon Vernon Russell (Source: WPD)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – A man from Wilmington was arrested in Georgia late last week and charged with the 2002 murder of his father.

According to the Wilmington Police Department, Waylon Vernon Russell, 42, is accused of killing his father, 64-year-old Ronald Wilbur Russell. Police say the crime was concealed for more than 10 years.

Detectives learned Ronald Russell was living with his son and his daughter-in-law off Holly Shelter Road in Castle Hayne. That same year, Waylon Russell told officer he drove his father to South Carolina after an argument, but that story, however, turned out to be untrue.

Authorities also discovered that Waylon Russell was taking money from his father's social security checks.

Ronald Russell was reported missing by his brother in November, 2003, more than a year after his murder.

Over the years, officers tried to locate the missing man but didn't have any luck. Police blame a direct lack of information on the National Unidentified Missing Persons Database for the delay in finding Ronald Russell's body.

According to police, his body was found on the bank of a river in Georgia but was only recently identified.

A family member recently made contact with police, who then tested a DNA sample and were able to identify the body found in Georgia as Ronald Russell.

"Without probable cause we cannot make an arrest. But gut feelings are good investigative motives," said Odham. "It keeps you going and without that you sometimes have a tendency to put a case to the side."

While authorities had a feeling Waylon Russell was involved with his father's disappearance, they didn't have sufficient evidence to make an arrest. The recent results of the DNA test, however, gave them the extra piece of information they needed.

Authorities say it appears the crime happened in Georgia but couldn't say for sure.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Ronald Russell as they embrace the news of this tragedy", says Ralph Evangelous Wilmington Chief of Police. "Each year our officers work hard to bring closure to unsolved cases in our community. This arrest is evidence of what happens when we use technology, law enforcement partnerships and good old fashioned police work to close a case."

It's likely Russell will make his first court appearance in Georgia in the next few days.

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