Ken Leefe’s 2010 murder still a cold case

Investigators found Leefe shot dead on June 24 in his car. The main clue involves a dark-colored Mazda 626.
Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 8:07 PM EDT
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KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) - Exactly ten years ago, Ken Leefe was murdered outside a fast food restaurant outside LaGrange, N.C., on U.S. 70.

It’s a cold case, but the family says they’re still not giving up on finding the killer. Leefe’s daughter, Brandi Bittle, remembers her father’s big personality.

“He was probably the nicest person to everybody,” she fights back tears, “Even ten years, it still gets to me.”

According to investigators, Leefe was shot in his car by the driver of a dark-colored Mazda 626. They say after shooting Leefe, the killer drove off on Willie Mesely Road. Deputies found Leefe slumped over in his vehicle - already dead.

Bittle still remembers getting that dreaded phone call from her mother.

“I was at work that morning. And I got a phone call from the S.B.I. wanting to get in contact with me. I missed the phone call. So, when I heard the voice mail, I just called my mom. And she said, ‘What do you know?' And I said, “I don’t know anything. I just got a weird phone call from the S.B.I. wanting to know if I knew Ken Leefe. And she said, ‘Yea, your father was killed last night.’ And I just started crying. I just fell to the floor,” Bittle said.

Major Ryan Dawson was on the scene that June day. He remembers the investigation like it was yesterday.

Dawson said the sheriff’s office interviewed every employee of the Bojangles’ restaurant, and they walked miles of roads checking ditches.

“It was a long, and ongoing, drawn-out investigation; especially with the limited amount of information that we were able to discover,” Dawson said.

And sadly, he says, there hasn’t been much progress on the case.

Dawson said, “It’s an inactive case because all of the leads that we had were followed up on, with none of them leading to an arrest at this point.”

Bittle says there has to be more that can be done.

“They haven’t been able to figure anything out with all the technology that has come out since. It’s... like I said, to me, it feels like they just gave up,” Bittle said.

Dawson begs the community to come forward, because he said it’s never too late to solve a case.

On the second anniversary of the killing, Bojangles’ franchise group offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for Leefe’s death. That reward is still valid today.

“We are all still very saddened at the loss of one of our management team members,” said Donna Rodwell of Tands Inc., the company that owns the La Grange Bojangles’ franchise. “We are confident in the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office that justice will prevail.”

“The sheriff’s office does not like unsolved cases,” Dawson said, “I’ve been here for almost 16 years. And I think this is only two of the death investigations that I’ve been involved in that have gone unsolved.”

Bittle said, “What I pray for all the time is for my dad to get some justice, because he deserves it. He didn’t deserve what happened to him. He didn’t.”

Leefe would have been 66 on June 25, 2020. The family is getting together to eat and to talk about their memories in his honor.

Bittle said she and her family take a vacation every year during this week to help keep their minds off the tragedy and to remember their loved one. She said even though her father never got to meet her children, they know him... because she tells them about him and says he’s in heaven.

If you have any information about the case, you can share it with investigators - confidentially - by calling the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office at 252-559-6100 or CrimeStoppers at 252-523-4444.

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