Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Podcast May 9 – Questions galore: Vigilante mob, missing Wilmington women, public records law [Free listen]

We start this episode with a disturbing story out of Pender County: late on a Sunday evening, a young black man opens his front door to find a mob of armed white men, including a New Hanover Sherriff’s deputy. They’re looking for a missing girl and her boyfriend — but they have the wrong house.

Ultimately, no one was physically harmed, but the situation could have ended disastrously. What’s more, the psychological damage of the incident has yet to fully play out.

Now, people want answers from elected officials. Law enforcement has known about the incident since at least Monday, but it wasn’t until Friday at 4 p.m. that District Attorney Ben David (whose district covers both Pender and New Hanover) and Pender County Sheriff Alan Cutler publicly spoke. There was no comment from New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon.

[Note: At the time of recording, David, Cutler, and McMahon had all declined to comment. The press conference was announced Friday afternoon, about two hours before it was held. During the conference, it was announced that the NHCSO deputy involved had been fired and would face criminal charges — but serious questions remained, including why no arrests had occurred the night of the incident, in the ensuing days, or in general before the story went public.]

Next, the latest on the search for missing Wilmington couple Stephanie Mayorga and Paige Escalera, last seen April 15. After two bodies, decomposed beyond immediate identification, were found in Escalera’s wrecked vehicle this week, many assume the two are dead. But what about the night fo the crash? Police were called to the scene the night of the women’s disappearance but didn’t find the car. How long did they look, and what’s the protocol for a situation like that? So far, there’s been no answers.

Lastly, a look at public records law in the Cape Fear region. No, this isn’t a nit-picky game of ‘gotcha’ over the rules of public meetings. It’s an important look at how local governments — an in particular government attorneys — have bent and broken the law, and what effect that has on transparency.

If you missed any of these stories, you can catch up below:

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