On June 16th, 1993, six employees in a small grocery store in the town of Windsor, NC were finishing their day when they experienced a living nightmare. Windsor is located in Birdie County and has a rich history, as one of the oldest towns in the state of North Carolina.
Today, the town is home to about 3,500 people and 300 year old homes still line King Street. Everyone in Windsor knows everyone, making this crime particularly shocking to the community and leaving many in disbelief. As this case is more nearly 30 years old, we will be exploring the details of this massacre and its impact on the town in a series of episodes.
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Be-Lo Grocery Store Massacre, Part 1 === [00:00:00] Today we are starting a series about a crime that shocked the community of a small, southeastern town and left people in disbelief. Almost three decades ago, on Sunday, June 6th, 1993, six employees in a Belo grocery store. Were finishing the day after closing time behind locked doors. [00:00:26] Everyone expected a quiet routine evening, but instead they soon found themselves in the middle of a living nightmare. [00:00:35] This case took place in one of the oldest towns in the state of North. Windsor was charted back in 1978 on land in Birdie County along the cashier river, which was historically the home of the Tuska or people. [00:00:53] Today, just over 3,500 people live in Windsor, where 300 year old homes still [00:01:00] lying. King Street. , the town is one of those places where everyone knows everyone and it's rare to see a strange face walking down the street. [00:01:11] Although Windsor's proximity to us 17 guarantees that there are always visitors, many of those driving the north south route, straight through the. Only stop for gas or to visit one of the outdoor parks. [00:01:28] Unsurprisingly. As Windsor is such a small, isolated and rural place, there is not much to do. A big part of residence's, free time activities revolve around nature. [00:01:43] And animals. Public events and social gatherings are not totally unheard of, but not a regular occurrence either for the younger people. Windsor can be a frustratingly boring place to live , due to the lack of malls, [00:02:00] youth centers, or basically any locations where to spend their time and have fun. [00:02:07] The same applies to. Which often use the local shops and regional chain stores as social hubs. [00:02:15] Back in the summer of 1990, Virginia Beach based Bonnie Belo Markets purchased a lot at 4 0 9 West Greenville Street where they soon opened a value focused below grocery. just like other local shops before it, [00:02:32] the market quickly turned into a meeting spot for the townspeople in Windsor. Going grocery shopping isn't just about getting what you need and hurrying back home. Instead, people spend a lot of. In the aisles, catching up with friends and neighbors and sharing the latest news and rumors. [00:02:52] So no matter if somebody had died, gotten married, given birth, or had an affair, all of that [00:03:00] was shared between the aisles of the Belo grocery store. Windsor is a close-knit community and despite all the shortcomings of the town, Life there can be simple and comfortable. [00:03:13] . The residents don't have to worry too much about crime either. as, even though property crimes do happen quite a lot. People rarely get. [00:03:24] According to the latest statistics, within one year , there were 38 incidents reported in Windsor, of which 35 were property crimes, and only three were violent offenses. So people may be more worried about their homes and belongings than walking outside alone in the dark. [00:03:46] However, just a few years after the Belo grocery store was opened in the 1990s, the community was shocked to its core when an unimaginable crime occurred in their small, quiet town [00:04:00] Afterward. It took a long, long time before the sense of security and wind. Was even partially restored. [00:04:09] But before we can talk about the tragedy that struck Windsor almost three decades ago, we have to mention another senseless crime that took place in the neighboring town of Bear Grass, located 21 miles south of Windsor. Bear Grass is an even tinier and quieter place with a population of just over 70. [00:04:31] Even today, you can find a convenience store called Cherries Cupboard at 61 21 Bear Grass Road, a few miles off of us 17 serving customers as it did back in 1993 as the store serves hot. It is a popular spot for the townspeople to spend their time, and as it happens, the employees get to know everyone[00:05:00] Most of the time, there are only familiar faces day after day, but every now and then it happens that a stranger stops for gas or because of a far more sinister purpose. [00:05:15] May 30th, 1993 did not differ from any other Sunday at Cherry's Cupboard. Despite approaching Labor Day, there were very few customers and only two employees, the owner Jerry Cherry, and 65 year old Audrey Leggett. Audrey was a mother, a widow, and a very well liked community member. [00:05:41] That day, just after lunchtime, Jerry had to leave and run some errands, and Audrey was left alone at the store, which was nothing new as she was a trusted and capable. For some time, Audrey served customers who came in for groceries or gas,[00:06:00] but eventually the traffic dried up. So Audrey enjoyed the quiet and relaxed until the store's phone began to ring. [00:06:10] The caller was her daughter who had questions about a recipe she was about to use. A couple minutes passed with Audrey and her. Having a very normal conversation, but then the call was interrupted by a customer walking into the store, Audrey, excused herself, having no way of knowing those would be the last words she ever spoke to her daughter. [00:06:35] It's unknown how long time passed before another customer stepped into cherries. , but as they did, the store was empty. There was no one behind the register and nobody answered the customer's call. It wasn't until the whole store was searched that Audrey was found in the cooler. She was dead with multiple gunshot wounds.[00:07:00] [00:07:01] As the police arrived to the scene, they quickly understood solving the case and finding out what happened to. It was not going to be easy. There were no witnesses nor CCTV footage. Basically, the only evidence was the bullets fired with a 22 caliber pistol. The killer had also taken $200 from the register before fleeing the scene. [00:07:28] The big question was if the perpetrator had only wanted the. [00:07:33] Why did they feel the need to shoot Audrey? It's unlikely she put up a fight alone in the store while being pointed at with a gun. [00:07:42] The community of Bear grass was shocked to hear the news about the cold blood and murder and broad daylight. How on earth was it possible that this person walked into Cherry's cupboard, shot Audrey and walked out without anybody seeing [00:08:00] them? Furthermore, was the killer? Someone they knew someone within the community or a stranger [00:08:08] while the police and people of bear grass were trying to find answers to these questions, another crime was about to shake North Carolina exactly a week after the incident in Bear Grass on Sunday, June 6th, 1993. Employees of Windsor's Below Grocery were getting ready for our closing shift. 47 year old father of five Grover Lee Cecil. [00:08:35] Who lived an hour away in the town of Aden, hugged his family, and set his goodbyes Before heading to Windsor grover was Belo Grocery store's manager, and that particular day he was prepared for a long night. A cleaning crew was scheduled to strip and wax the floors. [00:08:55] Later that evening after the store closed at. [00:08:59] [00:09:00] 36 year old single mother of two. Joyce Friesen, who lived in Windsor with her daughters was going to close the Belo grocery store with Grover that evening. Joyce was a cashier and well known in her community. She was described as a fantastic mother who always had her daughters and the highest. [00:09:22] That summer, Joyce was living exciting times as she had fallen in love again after the divorce from the father of her children, and was planning to get married very soon. Unlike. [00:09:36] Who needed to stay at the store longer that day, Joyce was supposed to get back home early to enjoy the holiday weekend with her family at the Belo Grocery store. , the business was going, like any other Sunday, customers were coming in at a steady B slow rate. It was a perfect day for Grover and Joyce to have conversations with the patrons, joke around[00:10:00] and have a good. [00:10:02] Little by little. As the time passed, the traffic began to dry up, and then Grover and Joyce started their closing routines. Meanwhile, 22 miles east of Windsor and the town of Edenton, [00:10:19] four men inside a blue pickup began their journey toward the Belo Grocery. Sylvester Welch, Johnny Rankins Jr. And brothers Thomas and Jasper Hardy were the cleaning crew responsible for taking care of the store's floors. That night. The four men had been working together at this point for about two months. [00:10:43] They were confident this job was going to get done without an. At 6:00 PM approached another vehicle, a two-door coop, turned into the Belo parking lot for a while. The two passengers sat there [00:11:00] watching , before the man in the passenger seat got out and walked into the store there. This man walked around perhaps trying to look like a regular customer, but in reality he was. [00:11:15] Gathering information while nobody paid attention to him. Once the man was satisfied, there were only two employees at the store that evening. He disappeared somewhere into the store to wait for the right moment. Meanwhile, Grover and Joyce continued their cleaning tasks and assisted the remaining customers who one by one exited the store at around 6:00 PM the blue pickup truck backed up next to the front door so the cleaning crew could easily unload their supplies. Just when Johnny and the rest of the men finished their task, the final customer walked out and Grover locked all the doors. [00:11:58] He had [00:12:00] just locked five people in with a predator [00:12:04] As the cleaning crew began their work, joyce was organizing her workplace at the front of the store, and Grover walked through the store ensuring everything was in order for Monday. Meanwhile, the stranger watched them from his hiding. [00:12:22] He was not in a hurry. He had all night to do what he needed to do. [00:12:27] And of course, the original plan would work no more because of an unexpected detail. The cleaning crew, the man pulled out his 45 caliber pistol and checked the ammunition. He definitely had to come up with some creative solution. There were only three bullets, [00:12:49] And this is where we will end the first part of the Belo Grocery store massacre. [00:12:55] I'll be back next week to continue our deep dive into what [00:13:00] happened inside the store and how the employees faced hell on Earth.