FBI joins search in N.C. killings

August 07, 1994|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Robert Hilson Jr. contributed to this article.

The FBI has joined an interstate search for a man charged in the bludgeoning deaths last week of a retired Maryland university administrator and his wife who were vacationing in Pilot Mountain, N.C.

Authorities said yesterday they believe that the suspect, the couple's nephew, Keith Bradley East, 33, of Pilot Mountain, is attempting to reach Atlanta or El Paso, Texas, two communities he is known to frequent.

Police in Winston-Salem, where the suspect was last seen, also are staking out bus stations and Mr. East's known haunts there.

Mr. East is charged in the deaths of Dr. Harold Delaney, 74, and his wife, Geraldine, 71. Their bodies were found Thursday, although the killings may have occurred earlier.

Dr. Delaney was a career educator who served as president at Frostburg State University and, shortly before his retirement in 1993, at Bowie State University. Both schools flew the American flag at half-staff yesterday in his honor. He also taught chemistry for 21 years at Morgan State University.

The Silver Spring couple may have been killed as early as Tuesday evening, authorities said yesterday, citing an autopsy report. Police have not publicly described a murder weapon, but the autopsy found that the couple had been beaten to death.

Investigators said yesterday that neighbors of the Delaneys' Pilot Mountain vacation home also have told of having heard screams and the slamming of one or more car doors Tuesday night.

Mr. East, who was unemployed, apparently spent Thursday night in the couple's 1991 Buick Park Avenue in downtown Winston-Salem. After reading accounts of the crime in the Winston-Salem Journal Friday morning, witnesses reported seeing him in the car parked outside an apartment complex on Miller Park Circle, across the street from a city park.

Authorities do not know why Mr. East was in the area, though he has done yardwork for a woman who lives in that community, said Lt. J. A. Berry of the Winston-Salem police.

The Delaneys frequently visited Pilot Mountain, a textile-factory town of 1,183 people about 50 miles north of Winston-Salem along Highway 52. Mrs. Delaney was born near the house where she was killed. Her mother is in a nearby nursing home.

Police found the bodies shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday at the brick rancher in the same neat subdivision where Mrs. Delaney grew up.

Robbery appears to have been the motive. Police believe jewelry and other valuables may have been stolen in addition to the couple's car, but have yet to confirm their disappearance.

Authorities said they consider Mr. East, who lived a block away, armed and dangerous. He is described as black, 6 feet tall and 250 pounds. When last seen in Winston-Salem, he had a mustache and was wearing black shorts, a black sweat shirt and tennis shoes. His head was shaved.

Pilot Mountain town police chief Doug Lawson said that the community, which has not had a murder in 25 years, was stunned by the killings and that investigators are working on the case "24 hours a day." The town's last homicides were the killings of two police officers.

"It's a hard one, but we're trying," Chief Lawson said of the Delaney case.

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