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TMCNet:  Knife seized from 'person of interest' in bones case

[June 15, 2010]

Knife seized from 'person of interest' in bones case

Jun 15, 2010 (Star-News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Investigators searched the apartment of a Wilmington man they now describe as a "person of interest" in an investigation into the killings of two women off Carolina Beach Road. During the search, a knife was seized and sent to a state crime lab for analysis.


Court records show that police confiscated a knife with "reddish/brown stains" and copies of a StarNews' article about the investigation from the apartment of Leslie Allen White, 42, during a search on April 13. Detective Lee Odham said White is not considered a suspect in the case. Instead, Odham described White as a "person of interest" because of the knife, the newspaper clippings, statements he has made about the killings, his acquaintance with one of the victims and his connection to the spot where the bodies were found.

"(Pending) the results from the lab, we have to consider him based on the totality of the circumstances surrounding him," Odham said. "We're not in a position to rule anybody out." In April 2008, bones were found in the woods in the 3500 block of Carolina Beach Road, behind the Pirate's Table Restaurant.

The remains were later identified as Angela Nobles Rothen and Allison Jackson-Foy.

Relatives last saw Nobles Rothen, 42, on June 10, 2007, when they drove her to her home on Lex Road in New Hanover County. They reported her missing three weeks later.

Jackson-Foy, 34, disappeared on July 30, 2006. Her sister, Lisa Valentino, said she thought Jackson-Foy was abducted. Marc Benson, a private investigator hired by Valentino, concluded Jackson-Foy disappeared outside Junction Pub & Billiards on Carolina Beach Road, about three miles away from where her bones were found.

In an April 2009 article about the status of the investigation, Odham described White as a "potential witness" to the killings.

A domestic disturbance on April 11 brought police back to White's home, and the responding officer reported finding knives and several copies of a 2009 StarNews article about the investigation and White's connections to it.

During a telephone interview Monday, White said he bought the hunting knife from a friend last year for $3, and he had kept four or five copies of the 2009 StarNews article since it featured an interview with him.

"It was the first time I've ever been in the newspaper," White said, adding that he kept the articles because they were about him. "My picture was on the front page." A StarNews reporter and editor interviewed White in April 2009 at his apartment and noticed two large knives lying near a stereo system.

White told police he'd take a polygraph test, he said, but he hasn't heard from investigators since the search was conducted at his house on April 13.

The search warrant was issued only two days after police were called to White's apartment on Little John Circle to investigate an argument between White and his neighbor. White's neighbor threatened him, so White reportedly grabbed a knife and threatened to stab the man, according to the search warrant.

The responding police officer found two knives sitting on copies of a newspaper article in White's apartment. White showed the officer the newspaper articles and "bragged about being interviewed by detectives and being labeled a suspect in the murders," according to the search warrant.

Wilmington police labeled White only as a potential witness before Monday.

"They were prostitues (sic) and deserved what happened to them," White said about the victims, according to the warrant. Although Nobles Rothen had a record of prostitution arrests, Jackson-Foy did not.

The officer took the knives because of White's threat April 11. White picked them up from the police department on April 12.

On April 13, investigators returned with a search warrant that directed them to search for the knives, newspaper articles about the killings, and clothing, credit cards or identification belonging to Nobles Rothen and Jackson-Foy. They took a knife and the newspaper articles, according to the search warrant. The knife has been sent to the State Bureau of Investigation lab for blood and DNA testing, but results are pending.

White said he met Nobles Rothen while he lived on South Fourth Street, where he let prostitutes rent rooms, according published reports. Nobles Rothen came by to use drugs, White said, but never rented a room. The two continued to see each other after investigators raided White's house in October 2004 and charged him with maintaining a residence for the purpose of prostitution.

According to the Department of Correction website, White's criminal history includes soliciting prostitution, drug possession, larceny, assaulting an officer, armed robbery, breaking and entering and selling drugs.

White is the second man whose home police have searched in the homicide investigation.

Police searched Tim Iannone's home four months after the bones' discovery. Iannone, 49, was a former taxi cab driver from New Hanover County who had been accused of attacking prostitutes. A witness also saw a cab drive behind businesses on Carolina Beach road near where the bones were found.

Another witness said he saw a taxi drive onto the grass behind the Carolina Beach Road businesses and cover all four windows of his car with a green tarp.

Months after the search, police said Iannone had complied with all of their requests and the case was going in a different direction.

But Wilmington police have since backed away from saying Iannone is no longer a suspect.

Matt Tomsic: 343-2070 On Twitter.com: @StarNewsOnline To see more of The Star-News or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.starnewsonline.com. Copyright (c) 2010, Star-News, Wilmington, N.C.

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