Search for answers in Havelock unsolved double murder case of 26 years

Search for answers in Havelock unsolved double murder case of 26 years
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 9:27 PM EST
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HAVELOCK, N.C. (WITN) - This weekend marks 26 years since two people were murdered at a pawn shop in the east and police and family members continue to seek justice.

On November 18th of 1997, John Mattmiller and James Smith were murdered with golf clubs while they were closing up the shop, which was robbed as well.

Michelle Pitman described the call she got from her mom 26 years ago that changed everything in her life, a call with the shocking news that her brother James had been killed.

“She called early in the morning, maybe about seven or so, she knew I would be up, and she said, “Have you had your shower yet?” and I said “No.” She said, “Well I need you to take a shower, get ready for the day, and then I’ll call you back.””

James Smith was 12 years younger than Michelle and worked at the Woodson Music/Friendly Pawn Shop in Havelock after coming home from college.

While the case remains unsolved all these years later, Pitman is turning to a new avenue for answers and for people to share information. She started a Facebook page called “Justice for James and John.”

“Over time, maybe loyalty has changed, maybe people’s consciousness will move them to reach out and let somebody know,” Pitman said. “I firmly believe there are people out there that know what happened.”

Lieutenant Anthony Fischer with the Havelock Police Department lived in Havelock at the time and is now leading the investigation.

“A situation like this, and as horrific as it is, I don’t know if you truly ever recover from it,” said Fischer. “I’ve been around Havelock for forty years, even before I worked here, so I have ownership in the community. "

Anyone with information on the case can reach out on the new Facebook page or call Havelock police at 252-447-3212.