The Kinston Police Department says it encountered a long-sought suspect for the 2020 murder of Asheville teenager Teylyn McAlpin while conducting patrols Aug. 5.
Police officers in Kinston, which is in Lenoir County in the eastern part of the state, were performing patrols near the 500 block of Larkspur Road due to “suspicious activity” reported in the area when they spotted Dionate Whitson, who has eluded police for nearly three years on an open warrant for first-degree murder.
“They initiated contact with him just to speak with him, and during that encounter, he fled on foot and tossed a firearm,” KPD Maj. Brandon Turner told the Citizen Times Aug. 9. “He ultimately got away, and the firearm was recovered.”
Since that interaction, the Kinston Police Department worked with the North Carolina DMV License and Theft Bureau to positively identify the suspect as Whitson, 20, of Asheville.
The U.S. Marshals Service, which began to help look for Whitson in December 2020, is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest, Turner said. They believe Winston “could be living among the homeless populations,” bouncing between North Carolina cities “to avoid capture” and “could be using an alias,” according to a 2022 news release.
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“It is suspected that other gang members are actively helping (Whitson) avoid arrest, in the Asheville, Greensboro, Raleigh or Winston Salem areas,” the release stated, saying Whitson is likely being protected by the gang Sex, Money, Murder. “Whitson may be moving between these large cities to avoid capture.”
In a Facebook post, Kinston police described Whitson as a 5-foot-7-inch Black male with brown eyes and black hair, weighing approximately 150 pounds.
Turner said Whitson is considered armed and dangerous. If anyone sees him, “do not approach him, contact law enforcement,” Turner added.
The Citizen Times previously reported that the Asheville Police Department responded to calls of shots fired at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 28, 2020, near the Montford baseball field. Officers found McAlpin, who was 17 years old, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and provided aid until paramedics arrived, a police spokesperson said at the time. McAlpin was transferred to Mission Hospital, where he died due to his gunshot wounds.
APD charged Whitson, who was 18 at the time, and a then-16-year-old male for McAlpin’s death. The 16-year-old, whose name has been withheld because of state juvenile law, was arrested in December 2020.
Before the shooting, Whitson and McAlpin were close friends, even “like family,” the deceased teen’s mother, Javelin Duncan, previously told the Citizen Times.
“I want Dionate arrested,” Duncan previously said. “I want to have my day in court to ask Dionate why would he do that, why would (he) take my son’s life? And I want him to look in my eyes and give me my answer.”
Two days after McAlpin’s death, 150 community members gathered near where he was shot, calling for an end to the killings of young people.
“Death don’t have to be the thing we do,” Laquanda Duncan, McAlpin’s sister, said at the gathering. “I’m tired of rest in peace shirts. I don’t know how anybody else feels, but I’m tired of it.”
The Asheville teen’s murder, along with the fugitive, has garnered national attention in the “Investigation Discovery” program called “In Pursuit with John Walsh,” which premiered an episode on Whitson on Oct. 5, 2022.
Anyone with information on Whitson’s whereabouts is encouraged to call the Kinston Police Department’s Tips Line at 252-939-4020, Lenoir County Crime Stoppers at 252-523-4444, or through the Tip411 App which is available on both Apple and android devices. You may also contact the U.S. Marshals Service 1-877-WANTED2 or use the USMS Tips App.
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Ryley Ober is the Public Safety Reporter for Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. News tips? Email Ryley at email@example.com. Please support local, daily journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Suspect in Asheville teen’s 2020 shooting death spotted in Kinston