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SPRING HOPE — For several years, a southern Nash County woman’s family members tended to disappear and die. She’s now accused of killing her sister-in-law, who has been missing for 15 years.
Kimberly Hancock, 49, has been charged with first-degree murder in the 2004 death of 29-year-old Deborah Elaine Deans.
Nash County sheriff’s deputies found human remains behind Hancock’s home on Wiley Road just outside Spring Hope last week after receiving a tip. Sheriff Keith Stone said he’s waiting on medical examiners to positively identify Deans, but Hancock has already been arrested in the missing woman’s death.
Still missing are Deans’ husband and Hancock’s brother, Roger Wade Ayscue, not seen in a decade. Ayscue disappeared from Castalia in 2009.
Hancock killed her father in 1989. At 18, Hancock shot her father in the face with a .25-caliber pistol while he slept on the family’s sofa. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a six-year suspended sentence since her father had been abusive, according to court records.
Detectives questioned Hancock about Deans when she disappeared, but Hancock said she hadn’t seen Deans recently and didn’t know where she went, according to archived reports in the Rocky Mount Telegram.
“We would talk often, sometimes up to three times a week,” Deans’ mother, Elaine Blevins, told the Telegram in 2004. “She has four children, and she would not have left those children. Two of those children are living with me now, and two are in foster care. They wonder where their mother is. This is not like Debbie, for no one, not even her friends, to have seen and talked to her.”
Deans, a waitress, left behind four young children when she vanished. Two of those children ended up in foster care.
No bond has been issued, which is typical in first-degree murder cases.
Stone said the big break came in the case with the help of Katheryn Zughbi, a local blogger who operates the Fighting Crime News and Who’s Wanted website and Facebook page.
Zughbi posted photos and information about Deans several times in the past year, the last time on Oct. 20. She received a tip in the case and turned the information over to deputies. Four days later, Hancock was in handcuffs.
“That’s how these cold cases get solved,” Stone said. “We need the help of media and the public.”
Zughbi said it feels good to know she’s contributed to the investigation.
Found in a wooded area behind Hancock’s mobile home at 1402 Wiley Road, the remains were wrapped in debris in a shallow grave, as described by the tip Zughbi received.
“The tip was very detailed, and this information came to us rapidly. The information proved to be very accurate and very reliable,” Stone said at a press conference held Thursday at the site of the grisly discovery.
Anyone with information related to the case is asked to call the Nash County Sheriff’s Office at 252-459-4121.
“Families need closure,” Zughbi sad. “Somebody knows something about all these cases.”