The cold case murder of Beth-Ellen Vinson - RaleighNorth Carolina - August 16, 1994

On the early morning of Tuesday, August 16, 1994, 17-year-old Beth-Ellen and her her boyfriend, Rick Heath, were sitting on the couch watching TV in their apartment near North Carolina State University. Beth-Ellen was working as a private dancer for an escort service at the time, hoping to save enough money to make her dreams come true in New York. She was a lifelong dance student with multiple awards, as well as an accomplished beauty queen. Beth-Ellen dreamed of becoming a professional dancer. Until recently she lived in Goldsboro, North Caroline, and had moved to Raleigh, in the same state, a few weeks before.

While watching TV she received a call for a service through the escort agency, after which she said goodbye to her boyfriend around 2:30 am and left for her appointment. It was the last time she would close the door behind her.

Suspicious abandoned car
At around 5:30 am, police received a report from an employee who had arrived at work but was unable to enter the parking lot because a strangely parked car was blocking the entrance to the site. It concerned a parking lot at a car dealership at 2501 Capital Blvd. When they arrived on site, they found Beth-Ellen's Mazda 626 abandoned, with the engine and radio still on. Police also found a shoe on the floor near the pedals. The situation was immediately considered suspicious and detectives soon launched an investigation. Shortly after police found the car, Rick, Beth-Ellen's boyfriend, arrived at the scene. He told police he was looking for his girlfriend because she had not returned home after being gone all night.

Broken dreams
On August 23, 1994, clarity came when a local businessman received complaints from his employees about a strange smell outside the building. Around noon, he found Beth-Ellen's remains under pieces of flat cardboard in a small ditch. The ambitious teenage girl was found to have been stabbed multiple times. Her dreams had brutally come to an end.

Police Investigation
The North Carolina Governor's office, along with Raleigh CrimeStoppers, offered a $12,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the perpetrator. With this she hoped to encourage people to come forward with their information. Meanwhile, witnesses and people from Beth-Ellen's circle were spoken to by detectives, including her boyfriend Rick.

The local Raleigh newspaper received an anonymous letter in October suggesting Beth-Ellen worked for people with "unique tastes" and allegedly tried to blackmail members of a "sadomasochistic" group. According to the letter writer, Beth-Ellen was earning $300-500 per job without engaging in sexual acts and was tired of enduring the pain of these encounters. The murder may have been related to her attempt to blackmail former clients. Police read the lead with great interest, but never confirmed the information as being true.

Because the investigation did not go smoothly, the police released more information in the spring of 1996 about Beth-Ellen's belongings that were still missing. In their statement they asked the public for help. It turned out that three of the victim's rings were missing, including a sterling silver Gorham brand, a 1970s Chantilly-pattern spoon ring, and a 14-carat gold ring with two amethyst stones and a center garnet. The last two rings were both size 6. Also her drawstring fabric shoulder bag which was burgundy, burnt orange and brown with a cowboy figure woven into the side. Investigators say the rings may have been given or sold to someone after Beth-Ellen's murder.

Cold Case
Beth's murder became a cold case over the years. Yet the authorities continued to insist on witnesses many years after the murder. According to the police, there must be people walking around who know more about the murder. Even 20 years after the murder, police were still investigating leads and re-interviewing old witnesses. There is evidence in the case, but the police have so far not been able to link it to a specific person. According to the 1994 homicide detective assigned to the case, Jerry Faulk, the murder can still be solved.

Information and Tips
Beth-Ellen's family is still devastated by the loss of their girl. They hope that after all this time there are people who finally want to tell their story so that the case can be solved.

Do you know more about the case? Even if it seems like something insignificant, please let us know now. Don't hesitate and get in touch now (anonymously) using the form below.

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