Suspect In 1972 Murder Of Bonnie Neighbors Returned To Johnston County

Larry Joe Scott (center) is led off a NC SBI plane at the Johnston County Airport in Smithfield Friday afternoon by (left to right) Detective Lt. Don Pate, Lt. Ryan Benson, and Chief Deputy Bengie Gaddis.

SMITHFIELD – A Florida man arrested last month for the 1972 cold case murder of Bonnie Wheeler Neighbors of Benson was extradited from Florida today (Friday) and returned to Johnston County.

Larry Joe Scott of Bradenton, Florida was arrested April 29, 2019 for the December 1972 slaying of Mrs. Neighbors. Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell and District Attorney Susan Doyle announced the arrest April 30th during a press conference at the Johnston County Courthouse in Smithfield.

Sheriff Bizzell reopened the cold case in 2007. Authorities used DNA to link Scott to the murder of the 33 year-old Benson woman. Her body was found in a Meadow area labor camp in 1972, three days after she disappeared while headed to a school in Benson to pick up her oldest son. Her 3 month-old son, Glen, was found alive by her side.

Scott had previously lived in Benson in the 1970’s.

Scott had fought extradition to North Carolina but those attempts failed. A Governor’s Warrant was issued for his arrest and a Florida judge ordered his return to North Carolina to stand trial.

On Friday, a NC SBI plane flew to Florida to pick up the 65 year-old accused murderer from a Manatee County, Florida jail.

Chief Deputy Bengie Gaddis escorts Larry Joe Scott to a patrol car for transport to the Johnston County Jail after arriving on board a NC SBI plane at the Johnston County Airport in Smithfield Friday afternoon.

Scott was accompanied on the 2 hour airplane trip from Florida to North Carolina by two detectives with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.

Additional Johnston County deputies were at the Johnston County Airport Friday afternoon awaiting the arrival of the NC SBI airplane. Once the plane landed, Scott was immediately escorted off the jet in handcuffs and placed in an awaiting sheriff’s cruiser.

Scott was transported to the Johnston County Courthouse where he appeared before a magistrate. Scott was ordered held in the Johnston County Jail without bond on charges of murder and kidnapping.

After the plane’s arrival, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell told JoCoReport he appreciated the assistance of NC SBI Director Bob Schurmeier and the NC SBI pilot.