Wednesday, October 4, 2023

911 call reveals couple reported Exotic Hemp employee brutally attacked by armed robber

According to court documents, Charles Haywood, 22, brandished a knife on employee Margaret Nicole Bracey, ordering her to open the cash register. He then proceeded to stab her multiple times. (Port City Daily/Amy Passaretti)

SURF CITY — A harrowing call reveals additional details about a murder that took place at Exotic Hemp Company in Surf City on Aug. 24.

Charles Michael Holloway Haywood, 22, turned himself in the day after employee Margaret Nicole Bracey, who went by “Nikki,” was found dead. He is being charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of armed robbery. The district attorney’s office is still deliberating whether it will seek the death penalty.

READ MORE: Death penalty being considered for man charged with murder of Surf City Exotic Hemp employee

Haywood has been assigned public defender Brian Moore from the capital defender’s office to represent him. He first appeared before Judge Russell Davis Aug. 26 and was scheduled for court again Wednesday, but the DA’s office explained he will not appear again until indicted by a grand jury.

Based on the Pender County 911 call obtained by Port City Daily, it was a female, seemingly entering Exotic Hemp as a customer, who called 911 sometime after 6:30 p.m. after finding the injured employee. The call lasted less than 4 minutes before emergency services arrived.

“We just walked in here, and the [girl] has been shot or killed,” she told dispatch. “My husband is in inside; he’s going to check on her.”

Mike Rivenbark owns Exotic Hemp, which has three locations in Surf City, Hampstead and Wilmington. He also operates All Seasons Roofing of Wilmington and did not return requests for comment.

The caller told 911 her husband had a concealed carry permit and was entering the store at 100 Charlie Medlin Dr. in Surf City to see if he could help.

After being asked about the injured employee’s condition, the female confirmed Bracey was not breathing, not conscious and she did not have a radial pulse, according to the caller’s husband.

“The blood is congealed,” she said of the scene. “It’s been a minute.”

She quickly noted there was no money in the cash register either but told 911 she was not a witness to the crime and did not know who the suspect was.

According to search warrants obtained by Port City Daily, Haywood entered the store at 6:38 p.m. and interacted with Bracey about hemp products before brandishing a knife and commanding the employee to open the register. After removing all the cash, Haywood attacked Bracey, stabbing her multiple times.

“Oh my f*****g God,” the female caller said in distress between heavy breaths. “There’s blood droplets on the way…”

The 911 dispatcher said she was sending paramedics, law enforcement and fire EMS, and asked the caller to stay on the line. Another voice can then be heard on the line who told the caller he reached out to the owner of the store; it’s unclear who the person is, according to the call.

The caller detailed to dispatch what happened upon her arrival:

“I walked in the store, as I was walking in, the man was coming in and I saw him with his shirt; I held the door for him. He was walking in, and he walked back, and was like, ‘Nikki.’ And then I saw a hand with blood on it, so I ran out and grabbed my husband.”

Court documents confirm Bracey was working alone in the store.

“If you can, just do not disturb the scene at all, OK, until they get there,” the dispatcher ordered before telling her she was going to disconnect the call as police arrived to investigate the scene. 

Haywood was caught on the store’s video surveillance, according to court documents, and stole merchandise, as well as the cash and placed everything in a black backpack. He also cut his hand during the attack; the video shows him bleeding, removing articles of clothing he left behind at the store and heading southeast on U.S. Highway 50, documents detail.

Detectives traced drops of blood to the intersection of Highway 50 and Little Kinston Road, nearly 700 feet away from Haywood’s mother’s home on Bridgeview Court.

Nikki Holloway told police when her son returned home, he went straight to his bedroom and had trashed the shirt he used to wrap the cut on his hand. He then disposed of the trash bag in the outside garbage bin.

Holloway took her son to Onslow Memorial Hospital to seek medical attention for his injury and also drove him to the Surf City Police Department the next morning.

Surf City Police officers obtained a search warrant on Aug. 25 for Holloway’s home on Bridgeview Court — where they seized his hospital discharge paperwork, a white bath towel, a black T-shirt, light blue boxers and three bags of trash from the outside can. They requested another search warrant to obtain Haywood’s medical records from Onslow Memorial Hospital, as well as video footage from his time there.

The incident appears to have been a rarity for the area and a first in 20 years for that level of brutality, according to Police Chief Phil Voorhees.

“Violent crimes occur here, but this one was outside the norm for us,” he said.

Voorhees confirmed this is the first murder in Surf City since 2002 when Robert Jefferson Goodman was charged with first-degree murder and felony child abuse. Goodman inflicted serious injury on his live-in girlfriend’s 2-year-old son, leading to his death.

The chief also noted the area surrounding Exotic Hemp Company is “family-friendly,” and includes an ice cream shop, mini golf course and the Salty Turtle Brewery.

“There’s usually not much crime there at all,” he said. 

Bracey, 42, was originally from Blenheim, South Carolina, and lived in Danville, Virginia, before moving to Pender County. She was an employee at Surf City’s Exotic Hemp Company for a year, according to social media. 

Following the tragedy, Exotic Hemp Company closed all three locations to allow its staff time to grieve. The stores have since re-opened after Labor Day. 

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