On December 14, 1972, Bonnie Wheeler Neighbors of Benson disappeared on the way to pick up her oldest son from school in Benson.
Neighbors, a 33 year-old homemaker, and her 3 month-old son Glen, were headed from their brick ranch home recently built on Highway 50 to pick up her 7 year-old son, Ken III, at school that afternoon but never arrived. Her station wagon was found abandoned on Market Street in Benson the following day.
After pleas went out to landowners to search their properties for the missing young mother and child – three days after her disappearance – on December 17, 1972, Bonnie Neighbors was found beaten, bound and shot twice at a Labor Camp outside of Benson. She had not been sexually assaulted. Her son was found alive next to her body.
Then Sheriff Raeford Oliver assigned two deputies to the case, Fulton Moore and Lemay Penny. Thousands of man hours were spent on the case by local and state authorities but no arrests were ever made.
In April 2007, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell reopened the case. Sheriff Bizzell was just 14 when Neighbors was murdered.
Last Thursday, on the 45th anniversary of Neighbors death, Sheriff Bizzell said his cold case investigators received a new tip in the case.
Sheriff Bizzell would not disclose the new information that was received but did tell WTSB News in an exclusive interview Tuesday, “We are actively investigating the current lead and this may lead us to conduct interviews out of state. State boundaries are not an issue when it comes to a murder investigation.”
Sheriff Bizzell said investigators were actively pursuing information based on the new tip and were conducting interviews. He would not say if the 45th anniversary date of Neighbors disappearance may have promoted the person to give authorities new information in the unsolved murder.
Since reopening the case 10 years ago, Bizzell said investigators have DNA evidence that authorities did not have before.
Bonnie Neighbors is still remembered by family members as having three main goals in her life: church, family and home.
Anyone who has any information about her unsolved 1972 death is asked to contact the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5000. Callers can remain anonymous.