Who Killed "The Can Man?"

Greenville Police are shining the spotlight on a 21 year-old unsolved murder in hopes that someone with information about what happened will come forward.

It was July 11, 1988 when 73 year-old Thomas Lee McGowan was found beaten to death inside the Imperial Warehouse at 715 Atlantic Avenue, where he stayed nights and where he maintained an informal flea market during the day.

Workers in the warehouse were doing maintenance on a sprinkler system when they found McGowan's body on the third floor of the building. It was believed that McGowan was beaten with a pipe or other blunt object. McGowan's wallet was found near the body and police speculated that robbery may have been the motive.

McGowan was called "The Can Man," because he collected aluminum and tin cans, bicycles, and other discarded goods for salvage and resale.

Greenville detectives developed suspects in the course of their 1988 investigation, but the investigation eventually turned cold. There is a $5,000 reward in the case.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to call Sergeant Joe Friday at 252-329-4372


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by To: Do What? on Jul 11, 2009 at 03:03 PM
    This man was a human being and he was murdered. He and his family deserve to have the killer brought to justice. Doesn't it bother you that somebody who is capable of beating a man to death has been walking the streets for 21 years? Besides, a human life is a human life, no matter what their status in the community. In this country even the poor have a right to justice and this man's family deserves justice.
  • by Do What? Location: Greenville on Jul 11, 2009 at 09:31 AM
    I would think that some bum in the infinite list of homicides would fall lower on the list and the more current crime be a prime focus. Get real! or get out! The police chief or "acting" police chief needs to hit the road so we dont get "cold cases" on whats going on now in this town!!!!
  • by Ted Location: Greenville on Jul 11, 2009 at 08:15 AM
    I'd have thought Sgt. Friday could have wrapped this up in about 30 minutes or so....
  • by Clayton S. Maybee Location: Grifton on Jul 10, 2009 at 07:09 PM
    The wheels of justice may grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine. May the Can Man be avenged ... may justice be done ... may the killer be caught and punished. I pray that it will be so.
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