Off-duty N.C. deputy spots familiar face at grocery store: a wanted murder suspect

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By Simone Jasper

The Charlotte Observer

WILMINGTON, N.C. — A sharp-eyed deputy was shopping when he spotted a murder suspect in a North Carolina grocery store, officials said.

The deputy recognized 63-year-old Kenneth Alan Stout, who was considered a “dangerous” fugitive after the “suspicious” death of Barbara Baker. Someone was looking for her when her body was found last month in the Beartown area, the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office of West Virginia said in a news conference video that WCHS shared online April 28.

The deputy recognized 63-year-old Kenneth Alan Stout, who was considered a “dangerous” fugitive after the “suspicious” death of Barbara Baker.

The deputy recognized 63-year-old Kenneth Alan Stout, who was considered a “dangerous” fugitive after the “suspicious” death of Barbara Baker. (U.S. Marshals Service)

During the search for Stout, U.S. Marshals Service released a wanted poster and announced $15,000 in rewards for information leading to his capture. Federal officials said Stout had a violent past and believed he was looking for job as a handyman or trying to exploit Black churches while on the run.

Stout had ties to cities across the Southeast, and officials reported losing track of him in South Carolina.

Then, more than a month after the April 1 homicide, Stout was caught about 375 miles from the West Virginia crime scene, officials said. He was found after a cop near the North Carolina coast reportedly spotted a familiar face during his May 6 grocery run.

The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office said one of its deputies was off duty but thought he recognized the fellow Food Lion shopper from a wanted poster. He called 911 and joined deputies from neighboring Pender County in tracking down the man, identified as Stout.

Stout, who had been wanted for first-degree murder, was arrested and taken to jail. He was waiting to be extradited back to West Virginia as of May 6, officials in that state said.

Though McDowell County Sheriff James Muncy shared few details about the homicide case during the April 28 news conference, he said Stout had been in a “domestic relationship” with Baker. Officials didn’t share attorney information for him in a Facebook post.

McDowell County is roughly 115 miles south of the state capital of Charleston, West Virginia.

©2023 The Charlotte Observer.

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