Man charged in woman’s 1972 killing dies awaiting trial

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A man charged with raping and killing a woman in North Carolina nearly 50 years ago has died in a state prison while awaiting trial, authorities said Monday.

Larry Joe Scott, 68, was in the custody of the state Department of Public Safety “for safekeeping due to medical conditions” when he died Friday at a prison in Raleigh, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell and District Attorney Susan Doyle said in a joint statement.

The statement didn’t elaborate on the circumstances of Scott’s death or identify a possible cause.

Scott was scheduled to be tried in August on charges of first-degree murder, rape and kidnapping in the December 1972 killing of 33-year-old Bonnie Neighbors.

The News & Observer reports that Neighbors had picked up her oldest son from school before she was found bound and fatally shot, with her infant son found alive next to her.

Scott was arrested in Bradenton, Florida, in April 2019. The sheriff’s office had reopened the investigation of Neighbors’ killing in 2007.

Authorities said DNA evidence from the crime scene and fingerprints found inside Neighbors’ car had tied Scott to the killing.

“We were confident and ready for trial,” Doyle said in the statement. “The evidence against Scott was conclusive and overwhelming.”

“I hope (Neighbors’) family can find some closure, knowing that we got the right man,” Bizzell said.

Scott was taken to a hospital on March 21 and transferred to a second hospital before he was taken to the Raleigh prison on April 3, authorities said.

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