George Hayden was arrested Monday night for the 1972 murder of Bill Miller. Since getting out of the Marine Corps, Hayden has been a police officer, most recently chief at Belhaven.
The D.A. says because the crime happened 36 years ago, the law at that time has to be applied today. In 1972 North Carolina did not have a death penalty.
"You have to look at what the punishment is at the time of the crime not the arrest, in 1972 we had no death penalty in America because the United States Supreme Court had ruled all death penalties at that time unconstitutional," Hudson tells WITN.
Hayden's ex-wife, Vickey Babbitt, will also not face the death penalty if convicted.
Babbitt and Miller were married at the time of the murder. Deputies say when Miller returned from a deployment, he found that Hayden had moved into his home. He asked the two to move out.
Several weeks later authorities say Babbitt lured her husband to a Western Boulevard parking lot where Hayden ambushed him, shooting the Marine twice.
Hudson says his team of lawyers are starting the process of looking for other witnesses from 1972 who may know about the crime, as well as crime scene investigators and pathologists from 36 years ago.
Wednesday's StoryA second person has now been arrested for a 36 year old murder mystery in Onslow County.
Vickey Babbitt, who was married to Bill Miller when he was murdered in 1972, was arrested at her home in Bend, Oregon last night.
After Miller's death Babbitt married George Hayden who was charged Monday night with the murder. Until this past March Hayden was police chief in Belhaven, and prior to that in Cape Carteret. Hayden and Babbitt have since divorced and both have remarried.
Deputies say it wasn't until August 20th that authorities got long awaited evidence they needed to charge the couple. A witness came forward after the Jacksonville Daily News ran a series of articles on the cold murder case.
Sheriff Ed Brown says since then investigators have worked around the clock reviewing the 3,000 pages of case file and re-interviewing witnesses from the 1972 homicide.
Brown says the two were always suspects in the murder. He says when the 27-year-old Miller came back from Marine Corps training in 1972, he found his wife and Hayden living together in Miller's Onslow County house. Brown says the two moved out of Miller's home.
The sheriff says Babbitt later coaxed her husband to a wooded area on Western Boulevard so Hayden could ambush him. Brown says Hayden then shot Miller in the head and back with a M-16 rifle. The sheriff says Hayden and Babbitt were married three months later.
Hayden is in the Onslow County jail without bond, while Babbitt is in the Deschutes County, Oregon jail awaiting a hearing to return to North Carolina.
A former chief of police in the Beaufort County town of Belhaven and Cape Carteret in Carteret County is now accused of killing a fellow Marine in 1972.
Hayden, age 57, was charged by the Onslow County Sheriff's Office. Police say Hayden's ex-wife, 58-year-old Vickey Miller Hayden Babbitt, will be arrested later today. Officials say Babbitt was married to the victim at the time of the murder.
Sheriff Ed Brown tells WITN News when the victim, 27-year-old Bill Miller, came back from Marine Corps training in 1972, he found his wife and Hayden living together in Miller's house in Onslow County. Brown says the two moved out of Miller's home.
The sheriff says Babbitt later coaxed her husband to a wooded area on Western Boulevard so Hayden could ambush him. Brown says Hayden then shot Miller in the head and back with a M-16 rifle. The sheriff says Hayden and Babbitt were married three months later and that Hayden has always been a suspect in the murder.
Until March, Hayden was the police chief in the Beaufort County town of Belhaven. Before that, he was a police chief in Cape Carteret.
Hayden now lives with his family on Portside Lane in Belhaven, where he was taken into custody Monday night by representatives from the Beaufort and Onslow County Sheriff's Offices, NCIS, US Marshals and the SBI.
He was taken to Onslow County, charged and locked up. Hayden was committed to the Onslow County Jail just one week shy of the date of September 16, 1972, the date he and Babbitt are accused of killing Vickey’s husband on Western Boulevard in Jacksonville. Officials note the murder occurred on Western Boulevard back before Western Boulevard was a part of the City of Jacksonville.
Babbitt is expected to be arrested at her home in Oregon today.
Earlier this year, in March, George Hayden was fired from the Belhaven Police Department in an unrelated matter, along with a police lieutenant. The two are appealing their dismissal and are taking their case to court. Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal told WITN News he had no comment on the former chief's arrest. The mayor said Hayden is gone from Belhaven and that's history now.
Onslow County has a press conference scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m.
"Regardless of the case type or age of a case, interaction, assistance, and teamwork of those in the judicial system is necessary," said Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown.
"I wish to express many thanks to the District Attorney’s Office, and all Agencies and their Agents for everything they did to bring this case thus far. Additional teamwork will be required, however, to bring this case to a resolved disposition. Family, friends, and citizens may consider a case cold, forgotten, or even dismissed, but as for law enforcement and those responsible for justice a case may be cold and old, but never forgotten or dismissed," said Sheriff Brown. "Much credit for new life being breathed into this case goes to the Jacksonville Daily News Reporter, Lindell Kay. It was two separate cold case articles Mr. Kay did in the Jacksonville Daily News that inspired a key witness to come to the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office with specific evidence that lead to the solving of William “Bill” Miller’s murder that occurred on September 16, 1972. Mr. Kay’s articles were in the Sunday, August 10th, and August 17th, 2008, publication of the Jacksonville Daily News."