Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Murderer dead by suicide, victim's family angry

The family of Tiffany Dawkins is not happy the man who murdered her is dead from an apparent suicide.

Dwayne Timothy Moore, 25, was suspected in the Christmas 2009 murder in Pender County and charged in a recent shooting Wilmington. He shot himself to death Friday in Florida as police closed in.

Dwayne Timothy Moore, 25, was found dead by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team in his room at the Palace Hotel in Orlando at about 2 p.m. last Friday. The hotel had been evacuated after gunshots were heard and reported to authorities.

Moore was charged with attempted murder for shooting Kayla Leann Floyd, 21, in the chest several times on Feb. 1 inside an apartment on Cypress Grove Dr. Police said he then stole Floyd’s blue Honda Accord and apparently headed south.

In a 911 call, Floyd told police she had been shot by her boyfriend and was afraid she was “going to die.”

“We knew his name since the shooting,” said Lucy Crockett, spokeswoman for the Wilmington Police Department. Much of the work in tracking Moore was done by U.S. Marshals based in Wilmington, she said. Once they tracked him to Florida, they sought the help of Florida marshals.

Crockett could not say what led them to that particular location or what evidence linked Moore to the Dawkins case.

A video of the two-hour standoff in Orlando shows a cadre of SWAT members cautiously approaching a doorway, finally racing in. The hotel is also shown surrounded by armored vehicles, police cars and other heavy equipment. The video is available at wesh.com.

Because of Moore’s death and the fact that he had been formally charged, the Floyd case has been closed.

Moore also was the primary suspect in the Dec. 26, 2009, murder of Tiffany Dawkins of Pender County. He had not been charged in that case, however, so it remains open.

In the Dawkins case, the body of the 23-year-old mother of two was found in a ditch at about 5:30 a.m. Dec. 27, 2009, by a man heading to work. He reported that he at first thought it was a deer that maybe had been hit by a car. But it was Dawkins. She had been shot and left alongside N.C. 133 in rural Pender County.

Dawkins and Floyd were distant relatives.

Other members of the family said they are angry Moore would not face a jury.

“If you’re going to be a man, be man enough to take what’s coming to you,” Kim Thomas, Dawkins’ mother, said in a televised interview.

In an earlier interview with the Chronicle, done while Moore was still at large, Dawkins’ sister, Michelle Ikner, said the family “always knew he did it. We warned them

Monday, November 19, 2012


I was traveling recently in a van with a contingent of youths in the back. One was hammering something while another was kicking the back of my seat.
The mother, in the front passenger seat, leaned back beyond my row to suggest to the kids they play “Love Bug.”
What a blast from the past. I loved that game. For those who don’t remember or never played, you are challenged to watch traffic until you spot a VW Beetle. Then you point, shout “Love Bug” and slug the other player hard in the shoulder.
I loved that last part. Except my sister would argue she’d seen it first and slug me back. She was bigger.
I never exactly understood the purpose of the game, since no one seemed to win. And why would Mom countenance the slugging and shouting?
Then my sister and I became aunts. And, one time when we had our nephews in the back of her car, we understood. Keep them busy, otherwise occupied.
We’re not talking Travel Yahtzee here. It must have some promise of kid-on-kid violence, though that can still be kept under control.
And Mary and I came up with an even better version for our purposes: Karmann Ghia.
Sitting in the passenger seat, it was my job to lean back and suggest they search for Karmann Ghias in traffic. Cars passed for a half an hour before we heard from the back seat.
“Um, what’s a Karmann Ghia?”
“You don’t know (dig at male car pride)? I’ll let you know as soon as I spot one. Who do I get to slug?”
Silence. Blissful silence.
From this blast from the past came an urge to look up online what’s new in backseat car games. There are such sites. Family.go.com has word, number and pit stop games. Let me share a few:
• Eating an Alphabet
Let your half-starved brood describe how hungry they are in this game, best played about half an hour before you make a pit stop for food. This version of the "I'm Packing for a Picnic" game begins when you announce "I'm so hungry I could eat an aviator" ("alligator," or "apple").
Crazy Menu. On a paper restaurant menu, take turns crossing out key words. Then have your kids read aloud the new and often grotesque combinations they've created. Anyone for Pepperoni Cake with Strawberry Lettuce?
• Raindrop Race. On a rainy day, each player traces the course of a raindrop down the car window. The first drop to reach the bottom wins.
Now, in my view, the next one is the least likely to be considered fun and games by the younguns
• Billboard Poetry. Take turns picking out four words from road signs. Give the words to the other players who have 1 minute to turn the words into a four-line, rhyming poem using one of the chosen words per line.
There are, amazingly, other sites. Have fun and drive safely this vacation season.
 I still want to slug my sister.

Dogs vs gators

There was the time my sister, Liz, and her best friend, Chris visited me while I was working with the Lake City Reporter in Florida.

Chris wanted to see alligators.

Now, as a University of Florida Gator, (class of 19##) I’d seen plenty of them. I’d spent most of my three years at the college living at Hume Hall, which was at the far edge of the campus. It also had a nice swath of grassyness between it and a pond, which was more like a lake, but not big enough.  It was a pondish lake.

And it was fed by a spillway from Lake Alice, an alligator preserve. So alligators would spill over as well into the pondish lake.

Now, those of us in Hume Hall knew not to swim in the pondish lake. We’d lie in the sun or play flag football on the grassy area between.

But then there were those two instances. A man had brought his mid-sized dog to use the grassy area and play Frisbee. It was a warm day, so the man apparently decided to cool off his dog by having him fetch the Frisbee from the pondish lake.

Games stopped. Those of us sunning stood and watched as there was a thrashing and churning in the water of the pondish lake. Thankfully, whatever happened happened under water. But neither the dog nor the Frisbee returned.

Not more than a few weeks later, another man, with a Labrador, was showing how his dog could catch a Frisbee. And then he turned to throw the disc into the pondish lake. Games stopped. Those of us sunning stood and we all screamed a universal “NO.”

It was too late.

So when Chris said she wanted to see alligators, I dismissed those sad alligator farms. She wants to see alligators? Dog eating alligators in the wild?

We went to Lake Alice.

Having seen what alligators can do, I stayed back by the car. Liz and Chris joined a couple with their young son on the tip of a spit of land that stuck out into Lake Alice. The little boy was armed with marshmallows and, tossing them in the water, was attracting quite a few gators.

I was tempted to tell them that these were not pigeons in the park, but dog eating carnivores.

And then this bull alligator, with a head the size of a Buick, slopped out of the lake and crawled up behind them, blocking my sister’s and the others way back to safety.

I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I discovered myself on the hood of the car, pounding on it, waving madly and shouting … instructions.

Chris turned and waved back.

It’s strange the stuff that goes through your mind at a time like this. I’m on the hood of a car. It’s not mine. “Holy crap! They’ve got the keys, and I’m not going after them.”

You see, alligators can run 30 miles an hour in spurts. He didn’t need to run, spurt or otherwise. He just needed to turn his head.

Which led to the next thought: “What am I going to tell Mom?”

Ring: “Mom? Yeah, Liz was eaten by a gator. No, a real alligator. Do you have Chris’s mother, uh, Eunice’s phone number?”

Thankfully, the beamish boy seemed to pick up on my signals and grabbed a handful of his marshmallows and tossed them into the water behind the living Buick, who slowly turned and slopped back in the water to get the floating treats.

The adults caught a clue, since by now I was on the roof of the car and making dents. And I thankfully never had to call Eunice.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Eating spaghetti with a spoon

Adventures of Inmate # 4855289 as composed by DebN

 It goes by many names: the slammer, lockup, the New Hanover Hilton. I just call it weekends in jail.

I admit it, I made some bad choices and got caught. I’m going to say something you don’t hear very often behind bars. I did what they said I did and I deserve my punishment.

This is my first and, hopefully, only trip to this particular Hilton. I prefer the one downtown. But it’s fascinating and educational. So I’m here to share what I learn.

Generally, I thought the punishment of jail mainly consisted of locking you away from friends and family and limiting your movements while inside. But there are a number of more subtle ways they have found to make life miserable while under the county’s care.

It starts with the check-in at 6 p.m. Fridays. Actually, the process can take up to three hours, for some reason. As weekenders, we’re allowed to bring books, playing cards, writing paper and white socks and t-shirts. Your clothes are replaced with, for women, pink and white striped shirts and tan pants with “New Hanover County” in black down the right leg. The lucky guys get matching shirts and pants. Plastic slippers complete the outfit.

Incoming inmates must submit to a pat down search and change clothes in front of a deputy. The worst part is having to remove your underwear, squat, turn your head and cough. I would think I’d be walking funny if I were hiding something there.

Because we’re fewer in number, women typically are put in with the general prison population, in a two-level pod of 24 cells, while the male weekenders enjoy the greater freedom of movement allowed in a dormitory setup. And the TV is almost always on there, too.

The women go to one of two cellblocks, Romeo or Quebec. They room with real time inmates, two to a cell, which are equipped with a toilet/sink combo, and two metal bunks with three-inch mattresses that look like heavy duty pool floats with a rounded end that is supposed to act as a pillow.

There are four single cells in what is known as “The Bubble” that usually house troublesome inmates. The name must come from a sunroom-looking glass and steel enclosure that can be closed off with doors at either end, reminiscent of watertight doors on a submarine. Locked doors upon locked doors.

Since, for medical reasons, I need a bottom bunk, I’ve been housed in The Bubble a few times. Since I’m not in there on lockdown as a troublemaker, I get to come out to the main area for each meal and for two hours in the day and two at night – our “rec” times when prisoners can play cards, try to follow a TV show, do laundry, take a shower or use the phone.

That’s caused some jealousy. “At least you can fart when you want,” one fellow inmate pointed out.

It’s when that cell door closes behind you that you notice the sound. It reverberates like you’re in a gym shower while wearing a metal bowl on your head. It overcomes normal sounds. A person speaking is hard to understand even when right next to you. Yelling is hard on the ears. There seems to be a constant clanging din from opening and locking doors. There’s a distinct shuffle/slap of people walking in the plastic slippers, trying to keep them on. The sound of chairs scraping across the cement floor is magnified and a flushing toilet sounds like someone fired torpedo one.

The clink of small plastic cups being set out by inmates assigned to housekeeping duties resounds through the block as a sign a meal is just about due.

Meals: whether “monkey meat” or “chicken toes,” the food in jail is proof government goes with the lowest bidder. It’s almost all carbohydrates ¬– rice, macaroni, potatoes and the ubiquitous square of cornbread they serve with almost every meal. And you’re issued only a plastic spatula-like spoon to eat it all.

Spaghetti is its own challenge. Most inmates use one of two methods, either the head-to-tray scoop or by chopping it into miniature lengths.

Given the menu, inmates either grumble it down and gain weight or refuse the stuff and stay in their cells. I know one prisoner serving a 60-day sentence who’s already lost 10 pounds. It’s not a recommended diet.

There are favorites: pancakes and sausage (I haven’t had that yet) or hot dogs and beans (they’re recognizable.) Most of the other stuff is a guessing game. Word is it’s all made from stylishly shaped soy protein. Word also has it they put saltpeter in the flavored water. No confirmation on that.

Lights out is at 11:30 p.m., even though a nightlight you can read by stays on all night. And reading and sleeping is about all there is to pass the time. So I’ve taken to telling time by the meal – breakfast at 6:30, lunch at 11:30 and dinner at 4:30.

Six meals later and I’m headed out right after dinner on Sunday. I’ll admit to feeling sad about leaving my new band of sisters behind, no matter what they won’t admit to that got them there.

But most of them are happy for my release. “At least you can go home and not have to sleep with your toilet.” Next time: The first weekend.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Grandma Must Be Crazy

Grandma must be crazy.
I don’t mean to be unkind
But when she tucks me into bed
I’d swear she’s lost her mind.

She tells me all these crazy things
about when she was a youth.
My momma says to listen close
‘cause Grandma tells the truth.

But I just can’t believe it.
it’s like unicorns and magic.
The fact she believes this stuff
To me is really tragic.

Like phones you used to have to dial
And are always on the wall.
And sending emails you handwrite
With a postage stamp, and all.

Just the other night she told me
And swears that it is true.
That her parents woke her up one time
To watch a man walk on the moon.

First, you have to believe that
she was once a kid like me
And played kickball in the street
And loved to climb a tree.

She’d tell when she was back in school
And doing her homework
She’d have to go to the library
And look it up in a book.

Mamma calls her mamma
Can that actually be so?
Did she make her her costumes
And tuck her in, long ago?

I think I’m understanding
That it really is the truth
That grandma had the world her way
When grandma was a youth.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Where does the grease come from?
As a reporter, I’m used to asking the tough questions. But I’ve never gotten a decent answer to that one.
I have covered many public school systems in my day. I am a product of a public school system. What links them all? Greasy spaghetti.
Where does the grease come from?
When I was a kid coming up, I lived for Spaghetti Day in the cafeteria. I thought the Lunch Ladies were magnificent magicians (also liked alliteration.) Let’s face it. Mom didn’t make it like that.
Grease…God’s Gift to humanity, right after fire, which, if you think about it, is needed to make grease.
Now, I’m an omnivore. That’s defined in my book as someone who’ll eat anything with bacon. You can put the arugula on the side with the lemon zest vinaigrette.
I know where grease comes from. I’ve cooked me some pig pieces before. It’s a natural by-product. Sometimes you want to throw out the meat and drink the grease. That’s the good stuff, anyway.
But in cooking spaghetti, I’ve never gotten grease. My own sister married into an Italian family and was taught how to cook by her Italian grandmother-in-law, who couldn’t speak English, but thought she could…
I digress. It was funny, though. Later.
Basic spaghetti: tomatoes or tomato sauce, mucho garlic, a bit of olive oil and spaghetti noodles, made from flour and eggs.
Where does the grease come from?
This is how the Lunch Ladies made magic (still like alliteration.) They can take vegetable matter and a protein and make it into something spectacular, if horribly fattening.
So I’ve come up with a theory ¬– only a theory. There is a Top Secret recipe kept under lock and key in a vault in a basement room of an unnamed mega-home in western North Carolina. Only Lunch Ladies have the key because, if the terrorists get it, the terrorists win.
So you may well ask where the grease comes from. But never, ever ask where it goes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Out of the dark(room)

I stopped by James Sprunt Community College the other day. I worked there for … a bit, and I wanted to say Hi to old chums. Then I went home and got online and met up with some folks I knew in high school. One was actually a junior high school friend.

Trust me, these things will eventually come together.

I was telling Howard, the junior high guy, what I’d been doing since then. It took a while.

Midway through, it occurred to me I’d spent a lot of my career in the darkroom. People complain about having to come out of the closet. I just wanted out of the darkroom. No. 1: it’s dark. Except for that little orange light.

The other thing was that, when I started in the darkroom in Florida, the chemicals were such that they made your fingers brown. I’ve known a lot of brown people – naturally brown – in my life. Their fingers are not that color.

Yes, they had those little clipper things with the rubber tips. Takes too long. I spent half my time chasing prints around in the developing pan. And I don’t know if you know this, but in the newspaper business, speed is good. So I went in hands first.

Thus, brown fingers.

And it takes a few decades for that to wear off.

When I got to the Wilmington Star-News, though, they wouldn’t even let me in the darkroom. I think they had a poker game going, or maybe it was the brown fingers that tipped them off.

I later joined the staff of JSCC doing public relations for them. So I was back in the darkroom. I worked with a professional photographer, Nelson Best (he does weddings, by the way) but somehow I got darkroom duty.

I can kind of understand it. Nelson could disappear in the darkroom for so long I was sometimes worried he may have had a stroke.

I was the speed demon. Photomat had nothing on me. One hour photos? Please. How about three dozen in 15 minutes? And the chemicals had changed. No brown fingers.

We had to print several copies of each shot to send out to newspapers. Perhaps we sent some to the one you’re reading now.

And then the day came. The college bought us digital cameras. I was finally out of the darkroom.

Nelson, who I believe still has everything he’s ever owned, found a new use for the darkroom. He stacked it with stuff. Eventually, you couldn’t get in there sideways.

Which didn’t bother me a bit.