WILSON, N.C. (WNCT) — Update: Dereck Harris is expected to appear in court on Tuesday for charges pertaining to the shooting deaths of four people who were killed in Wilson last year on Christmas Eve.
A man already in custody is facing murder charges in the shooting deaths of four people who were killed in Wilson last year on Christmas Eve.
The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office said they have obtained murder warrants on Dereck Eugene Harris, 29, in connection to four homicides that occurred at a Banks Lane residence.
Harris will face four counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of 54-year-old Tammy Lynnette Pearce, 28-year-old Paul Shane Pearce, 47-year-old Selby Gene Outland and 23-year-old Dominique Nicole Privette.
Tammy and Paul Pearce were mother and son, and Outland and Privette were significant others to one another, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Harris has been in the N.C. Division of Adult Corrections’ custody nearly the entire time since the homicides.
The Sheriff’s Office said Harris was found hiding out in a house in the city limits and arrested on January 12 on allegations of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling and a probation violation stemming from a separate incident.
The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office placed a detainer on Harris that notifies prison authorities that the agency had warrants on him and will transport Harris back to Wilson from prison where he was serving an eight-month sentence (for probation violation and misdemeanor charges which included speeding to elude arrest and hit and run.
The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information regarding this case to call 252-237-2118. People can report information anonymously.
Sheriff Calvin Woodard’s released the following statement regarding the case:
“Investigators have worked countless hours on the case that is still being actively investigated. It was never placed on the back burner. We constantly kept working the case until we came to this point; however, we are not stopping here. We will continue our investigation until we locate everybody accountable for this crime. Harris was known to some of the victims. The detectives followed great leads and significant evidence that led to an arrest in this horrific crime.
We can actively say that the motive was due to a drug debt involved with the suspect and one of the victims. Investigators have determined nothing was stolen from the home during the time of the shooting.
Harris has always been a person of interest in this case. We had to keep working different channels, follow every lead, interview numerous witnesses and also obtain other evidence critical to the case. We remained tight-lipped about the case because we didn’t want to lose evidence or allow anything to fall between the cracks. In other words, to protect the integrity of the investigation, we had to be careful on every level.
We sympathize and appreciate the patience of the family and the community. Each family involved had a designated contact person with whom the major case detective kept in touch with at all times concerning the case. In addition, the contact person and the community were made aware that the Christmas Eve homicides were an isolated incident- we would never place the public in any danger. We knew the community was safe because we had him, but Harris’ arrest doesn’t represent the end of this investigation. We are definitely looking in to information on additional suspects. This arrest is not only important for the family of the victims but for the community and law enforcement
It’s not right that the victims and their families had to endure the pain from this incident. We have worked to solve the killings every day, and this was one of those cases that kept us awake at night. I’m thankful we have a strong investigative team who has been working on this for the last eight months, ensuring closure for the families and the community.”