• Topsail Times

Front Page: Armed Robbery And Murder Shocks Surf City

On Thursday, August 25th, Margaret Bracey went to work as usual. The store where she worked, Exotic Hemp, had just opened the Surf City location 9 months earlier. With shelves filled with bright colored bottles, bags and jars, the ultra-modern motif was a welcoming sight to curious newcomers and regulars alike. Situated between a popular ice cream spot and well-known craft beer establishment, Exotic Hemp employees

and customers alike should have felt completely safe in this busy environment. Shortly after 6:30 pm, Margaret Bracey lost her life to a person, who for whatever reason, felt that her life meant less than what he needed to steal. There is no item or amount of money anywhere in this world that is worth more than a human life, but on that day, 22-year-old Charles Michael Haywood didn’t care. Sources say that Mr. Haywood’s own mother was the reason he turned himself in the following morning to the Surf City Police. Her son had apparently been staying with her for the last few months after moving here from Holly Springs, North Carolina. His actions that day destroyed the family and loved ones of Margaret Bracey, as well as his own family.

Held without bond, it is possible that District Attorney Ben David will seek the death penalty in this horrific and senseless crime. Charles Michael Haywood brought a knife with him to the Exotic Hemp Company that day. A decision that will certainly alter the course of his own existence.

It is not known at this time why Mr. Haywood moved here from Holly Springs, even though that area had recently been in the news for the large number of opioid overdose deaths. The Harnett County Sheriff stated that 21 deaths had been reported between January and June alone.

Mr. Haywood will go before a felony district court judge on September 14th in Pender County.

Has the Topsail area seen violent crime before? The answer is yes.

20 years ago, a young boy was brutally beaten to death by his dad while his mother was at work. The boy’s little brother witnessed the murder. Many officers that handled the scene were traumatized.

In 2013 the area was shocked by the brutal death of two men who both died from stab wounds on the beach. Bekka Shellhammer, the wife of one of the men, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for her role.

On New Year’s Day in 2018 a man shot and killed his 56-year-old mother and her 71-year-old boyfriend. Apparently, he started out holding a gun to his own head when his mother stated that if he was going to kill himself, he may as well kill them both too. Unfortunately, he killed them but didn’t take his own life.

Violent crime does not discriminate based on zip code or financial aspects of a community. It is everywhere and taking steps to minimize the likelihood of it may help in the long run.

On Monday, October 3rd, the Topsail Times Newspaper, Surf City Guns and Ammo and other local businesses are putting on a presentation for small business owners, “How to keep yourself, your employees and your customers safe”. The event will be held at Smoky Tony’s restaurant in Holly Ridge from 6-9pm. For reservations call (910) 803-2300. The cost is $50 per person and will include dinner.


 

Part of Issue 19: