Email This Email Print This Print AddThis Social Bookmark Button Yahoo! Buzz Fugitive apprehended; six others charged in murder appear in court

It was a credible tip from a citizen combined with the well-trained nose of a good K-9 that led authorities Wednesday afternoon to a fugitive wanted for murder.
Around 2 p.m., deputies received information from a resident of the Hankins Road area who thought he spotted 55-year-old John Frank Roberts Sr., who lives behind his mother's house at 715 Hankins Road.
Deputies with the McDowell County Sheriff's Office and troopers with the N.C. Highway Patrol responded to the location across the road from Roberts' house, according to Sheriff Dudley Greene.
"We set up a perimeter and kept him in that area," Greene stated.
They called for U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Jason Crisp and his K-9, Maros. Within minutes of putting the dog on the scent, Maros tracked Roberts to a patch of weeds in the edge of the woods, said the sheriff.
The suspect was taken into custody at 2:31 p.m. without incident.
Roberts has been on the run from officers since last Thursday, when, acting on a tip, they initiated an investigation into a possible murder.
Detectives searched two houses – the one occupied by Roberts and the other by 52-year-old Kenneth Wayne Pittman Sr. of 96 Stacy Hill Road in Nebo – and discovered human remains at Roberts' home, according to Greene. The sheriff added that officers later found evidence inside Pittman's residence that made them believe the killing occurred there.
Autopsy reports show the victim, 44-year-old Harry Dewayne Causby of Sherwood Forest Drive in Nebo, was shot once in the back, possibly with a medium-caliber handgun.
Pittman was located Sunday and charged with drug offenses and first-degree murder. He is in jail with no bond.
Roberts has been charged with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon. Authorities stated that, during the search of the suspect's home, they found a gun. Roberts is a felon, having been convicted in Buncombe County in 1993 of charges related to a robbery, according to court records.
Roberts is also in jail with no bond.
Five others have been charged with accessory after the fact of first-degree murder. Sgt. Dan Shook said two of them helped "cover up" the crime, and the other three moved the body from Pittman's residence to a location in Burke County on May 9 and then from Burke County to Roberts' house on May 10.
The six who were already in custody made their first appearances in McDowell County District Court Wednesday, where they were appointed lawyers.
A call to The McDowell News Wednesday morning makes it appear that Roberts has been in the county the entire time.
A woman who lives off Nix Creek Road phoned the newspaper to tell her story but asked that her name not be printed.
She said she's known Roberts since they were teenagers. She left to go out of town Saturday and returned Tuesday to find Roberts in her house, eating one of her frozen dinners. He entered by crawling through a window.
"He said he was sorry, but he didn't have anywhere else to go," the woman recalled. "I said, 'Well, you have to go.'"
She said deputies questioned her Friday, so she knew they were hunting for Roberts. When she told him to leave, he walked out the back door and into the woods. That's the last time she saw him.
Roberts looked "poorly," she recounted.
"He looked run down, like he had lost 20 pounds," she stated. "He was pitiful looking."
The woman said Roberts has been a good friend to her, often doing repairs around her house and helping out with yard work, all at no charge.
"I can't believe what is going on. I can't believe he's capable of anything like this," she said. "He's a wonderful person, very loving and friendly."
She also knows Roberts' wife, 51-year-old Lynn Higgins Roberts, who is one of the five charged with accessory.
"She is as sweet as can be," the caller stated. "She wouldn't harm a hair on a child's head."
Shook said no other arrests are anticipated.

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