Suspect In 1972 Murder Of Bonnie Neighbors Indicted By Grand Jury

Larry Joe Scott of Florida is escorted off a NC SBI plane at the Johnston County Airport in Smithfield after being extradited from Florida on May 10, 2019.

A Johnston County Grand Jury has returned a True Bill of Indictment against a Florida man charged in the 1972 death of Bonnie Neighbors of Benson.

Larry Joe Scott of Bradenton, Florida, formerly of Benson, was arrested April 29, 2019 for the murder and kidnapping of Neighbors. The 33 year-old wife and mother of two was last seen alive on December 14, 1972 leaving her home to travel to Benson School to pick up her oldest son.  She never made it.  Her car was found abandoned the following day in Benson.  On December 17, 1972 her lifeless body was found in a labor camp in the Meadow community.

Sheriff Steve Bizzell reopened the cold case in 2007 and after 12 years of work was able to solve the case.

Scott was arrested in Florida and returned to Johnston County on May 10, 2019.

A Grand Jury in Smithfield has indicted the 65 year-old suspect on one count of murder and one count of first-degree kidnapping. The date range of the offenses was Dec. 14-17, 1972.

According to the kidnapping indictment Scott “…unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did kidnap Bonnie Wheeler Neighbors… without her consent, and for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a felony, and doing serious injury to Bonnie Wheeler Neighbors. Bonnie Wheeler Neighbors was not released by the defendant in a safe place and was seriously injured.”

Bonnie Neighbors

The murder indictment did not reveal any new information about her death only stating, “…the defendant named above unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did of malice aforethought kill and murder Bonnie Wheeler Neighbors.”

Both indictments were signed by the foreperson of the Grand Jury.

Scott was arrested more than 46 years after the slaying thanks to new advances in DNA.  Scott was homeless, eating daily at a soup kitchen, and living on the streets of Bradenton, Florida when he was arrested last month.

On Wednesday, District Attorney Susan Doyle told JoCoReport,  “The case will be calendared for the Administrative Superior Court week of June 3rd.  The case will be declared “Exceptional” which is typical for most homicide cases and complex matters that will take a lot of time.  That removes it from the normal schedule of having to appear on the calendar every single month.  We will begin the process of getting all of the discovery from law enforcement and turning all of that over to the defendant’s attorney.  That process alone will take quite a while.  As you can imagine, the discovery in this case is voluminous.”

Larry Joe Scott is being represented by court appointed defense attorney Raymond Tarlton.