::Police Solve 1981 Murder Of Hotel Clerk
From Raleigh Chronicle Staff & Wire Reports
Thursday June 14, 2007
RALEIGH - According to Raleigh Police, thanks to new technology, they have solved the 1981 murder of a Raleigh hotel clerk who was beat to death with a piece of concrete.
Although the murder of Clyde Dewar Sykes occurred 26 years ago, police said earlier this week that the clearance is the result of a cold case review that was started in March of last year.
"Forensic work performed by the City-County Bureau of Identification led to the identification of a possible suspect, and subsequent investigation by RPD's Major Crimes Task Force established probable cause to believe that the suspect committed the murder," said spokesman Jim Sughrue of the Raleigh Police Department in a media statement.
"This case was solved by a combination of modern science and good detective work," stated Raleigh Police Deputy Chief Kent Sholar in a statement to the media. Sholar is currently serving as interim chief of police until a permanent replacement can be found.
"Everyone who worked on it over the years shares in this accomplishment," he added. "The long-term effort on this case demonstrates our commitment to solving homicides that occur in the City of Raleigh. We never close an unsolved homicide investigation."
About The Case
According to police, on May 3, 1981 the victim Clyde Sykes was found beaten and severely injured in room 117 of the Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge located at 2723 Capital Boulevard in Raleigh. He had been working as the hotel's clerk on the night shift.
Police files say that Sykes died five days later as a result of his severe injuries.
During the investigation, it was revealed that a piece of concrete wrapped in a towel found outside of room 129 at the hotel was the murder weapon.
There were some leads -- police say there was a witness who reported seeing a black male carrying "a large object wrapped in a bedspread" say police. Police investigators believe that the object in the bedspread was a television.
Later, a bedspread and a television stolen from the hotel were found abandoned near Capital Boulevard, say police.
The television was determined to have been stolen from room 336, where it had been ripped from the stand and the bedspread had been taken from room 337, say investigators.
"Other witnesses reported seeing a black male they thought to be suspicious at various locations around the hotel during the night Sykes was assaulted," said Raleigh Police spokesman Jim Sughrue about the case.
As part of the investigation, fingerprints were lifted from "key locations" in the hotel.
"During the course of time, hundreds of prints were identified and eliminated [while] others remained potentially related to the case," said Sughrue about the case.
In addition to forensic evidence, police say that a witness saw the suspicious man standing outside of room 117 and described the man as being about 5 feet 11 inches tall, having a medium build, and over 40 years in age.
Renewed Police Investigation
Raleigh Police say that the homicide case was thoroughly investigated in 1981 and since then it has been reviewed on "numerous" occasions.
In March of 2006, the Detective Division's Major Crimes Task Force started another review of the Sykes murder, say police.
"As part of that review, detectives requested that CCBI reexamine the fingerprint evidence collected during the initial investigation," said Sughrue of the Raleigh Police in a media statement.
Within three weeks of the cold case review of the crime in 2006, crime scene investigators advised police detectives that fingerprints lifted in rooms 336 and 117 had been traced to a career criminal.
Everett Julious Alston, who would be 71 years old if he were alive today, was named as the prime suspect.
"The print match was obtained using the latest technology and techniques, including capabilities that were not available until recently," said Raleigh Police spokesman Jim Sughrue.
Raleigh Police say that a criminal history check determined that Alston had a long rap sheet with a "lengthy record of arrests" for violent crimes in several states, and it showed that he was in the area and had been arrested in Durham on May 12, 1981.
Detectives investigated Alston as a potential suspect in the case, but Alston died of natural causes in 2000.
"If he had been alive, the Major Crimes Task Force concluded that probable cause would exist for the issuance of an arrest warrant charging him with the murder of Sykes," said Sughrue about the case.
Alston's Connections To Murder
According to police, several items tied Alston to the murder of Sykes including:
--Alston's fingerprints were found at the murder scene in room 117, where Sykes was located, and in room 336, where a TV had been stolen
--A witness saw a subject matching Alston's description carrying a large object in a bedspread, and a stolen TV and a stolen bedspread were later discovered abandoned nearby
--Alston closely matched the description provided by several witnesses of a suspicious individual seen at the hotel the night the crime was committed
--Alston's arrest in Durham places him in the area during the time period when the murder was committed
--A review of the guest list from the Howard Johnson's during the timeframe of the homicide determined that Alston was not listed as being registered in the hotel and
no reason could be found that would place Alston on the property for a legitimate purpose.
Police say that the Major Crimes Task Force reviewed the results of the investigation with retired detectives who were working the case in 1981 and the Wake County District Attorney's Office and feel that the "determination of the task force was validated" in naming Alston as the chief suspect in the murder.
In an official statement, the Raleigh Police Department stated that "as a result of the findings and determinations of the case review, the homicide of Clyde Dewar Sykes has been closed with the conclusion that Everett Julious Alston assaulted him on the night of May 3, 1981, causing injuries that led to Sykes' death on May 8, 1981."
Because Alston is deceased, the case can't proceed further but the department has classified the case as being cleared. ::