Category Archives: MYSTERY

Beaufort man found deceased

On Monday, 02/06/2017 at approximately 9:30am Carteret County deputies along with Beaufort Fire & Rescue and North River Fire Department responded to the 600 block of Merrimon Road outside of Beaufort after an inmate work crew cleaning the roadside discovered a body in a ditch.

Deputies determined the man to be 66-year-old Sidney Tate Jr of Marshall Lane, Beaufort. Tate, who was known for walking up and down Merrimon Road, was found less than a quarter mile from his home. Tate was discovered in a small ditch of water near Isaac Murray Drive but there were no obvious signs of trauma to the body. Tate’s next of kin have been notified
and the incident is under further investigation pending an autopsy.

Woman’s cause of death could aid investigation. Autopsy scheduled.

At approximately 11:50 a.m. on Sunday January 29, 2017, deputies of the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a possible body that had been found in a ditch on Cowell Road in Alliance, North Carolina. Upon arrival at the scene deputies located the body of Kimberly Dawn Meekins, 20 of Alliance.

Investigators determined that Meekins lived in a nearby apartment complex. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday. No cause of death has been determined. The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office at 252-745-3101.

Rumble in County!

Area residents report mild shake, rattle & roll

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

People living in an area that ranges from Aurora in Beaufort County, south to Oriental in Pamlico, reported what they believe to have been a brief earth tremor at approximately 8:25 p.m. Monday night.

The 911 dispatcher — who takes calls from an enclave in Pamlico County — reported receiving a dozen or so calls from concerned citizens. No one reported any damages, but all confessed bewilderment at what may have caused the rumble that lasted anywhere from three to seven seconds.

The area borders a bombing target in Pamlico Sound but a call to the U.S. Coast Guard Station, located on the Intracoastal Waterway in the remote northeast corner of Pamlico County, apparently discounted any military operations that might have caused the widespread shock.

“My cats knew it was coming before it actually happened,” reported one resident of Mesic, a small community on Hwy. 304. “They jumped off the window sill, before I even felt the thing.”

Squatters arrested in Minnesott Beach

‘They looked like regular renters to me’ said one neighbor

TCC080813001By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

MINNESOTT BEACH –Bryan Moore, 47, knew nothing about four squatters who settled into his waterfront home, located on the Neuse River a mere stone’s throw from this community’s ritzy golf and country club.

Moore, on active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard in Washington, D.C., had done little to his residence since Hurricane Irene struck in August of 2011. So he immediately sensed something was awry when his Minnesott Beach neighbor called to gently complain about Moore’s ‘renters.’

“I would not even know about this now were it not for her call,” said Moore, during a brief telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “But let me tell you, that was some good service that I got from the law enforcement folks down there. I really feel good about how they handled the situation.”

The Poteet family enjoyed a waterfront view after brazenly moving into Bryan Moore’s home at 63 Beach Road, near the Minnesott Golf and Country Club.

The Poteet family enjoyed a waterfront view after brazenly moving into Bryan Moore’s home at 63 Beach Road, near the Minnesott Golf and Country Club.

The squatters – a married couple and two adult sons – “were quite overt about everything,” said Moore. “I think maybe that’s part of their regular tactics.”

Deputy Jerry Pegram with the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Department investigated the case, which quickly brought about the arrests on July 23 and 24 of Mike and Kristi Poteet, and their sons Paul, 25, and Jacob, 30. The three men remain incarcerated at the Pamlico County Jail, with the woman being held in Craven County.

“They really know how to play the system,” said Pegram, who said that the investigation is still underway. “They forged and altered documents to get the water and electricity turned on. In Pamlico County, if a house has had they power turned off for more than a year, then the Building Inspector has to approve the residence. The place didn’t pass inspection the first time, but they made some repairs and got approval.”

Pegram added the family had previously been evicted from another home in town. As a result of that information, investigators believe the Poteet family was familiar with the Beach Road neighborhood, and knew Moore’s home had been unoccupied for many months.

The Poteet family enjoyed a waterfront view after brazenly moving into Bryan Moore’s home at 63 Beach Road, near the Minnesott Golf and Country Club.

The Poteet family enjoyed a waterfront view after brazenly moving into Bryan Moore’s home at 63 Beach Road, near the Minnesott Golf and Country Club.

One neighbor, Bob McDonald, said “they looked like regular renters to me.”

One person, unconnected with law enforcement, but familiar with the situation, reported the squatters “had four stolen – verified by their animal chips – very expensive cats, from $600 to $1000 in value. Outside were two stolen (also chipped) dogs.”

Inside the residence were huge containers of beads and jewelry making materials, with a “very large amount of clothing.”

The source also reported a large quantity of food, both fresh and canned, including animal food in unopened bags.

“Apparently they were not planning on running if found out – too much stuff to leave behind.”

Pegram, the deputy, expects more shoes to drop.

“We found out that one of the sons, Jacob, is wanted in Kansas City. And, we know that the parents got financial help locally, so we’re looking into possible charges related to that.”

Moore, the absentee homeowner, finds the entire episode mind-boggling.

“The sheer audacity of it is what amazes me,” he said. “You just don’t expect something like this to happen. They forged my name in mid-March, and after that they just got more and more comfortable living there.”

‘ Prowlers of Pamlico County ’ exist


By Ivia Nathaniel | Special to the County Compass
Photo of a panther elsewhere in the US.

Photo of a panther elsewhere in the

NEUSE ROAD – Coming home Wednesday night, Jan. 16, at approximately 7 p.m. on Neuse Road, about 1500 feet from the corner of Scott Town Road, a sleek black long slinky cat sloped across the highway, barely missing the front grill of my car.

The cat jumped like it was floating. It made one big leap and landed approximately 10 feet from my car, but on all four of its feet.

Many Pamlico People don’t believe we have these things. But I know we have black panthers, bobcats, plenty of bears, coyotes, and mountain lions (cougars).

Approximately five years ago coming from fishing on Goose Creek Road – an area we call Orange Swamp – I came around the curve and there stood a big rusty-colored cougar with long whiskers on its face with such a mean, vicious look.

I always tell people with small children to be watchful. These things are the prowlers of Pamlico County. I would like to hear from others who have seen the panthers. My home number is 249-1839.

Editor’s note: Mrs. Nathaniel’s experience reminds us of a story in the November 17, 2011, issue of this newspaper, titled “Most say panthers exist.” We invite readers to revisit that fascinating article in which dozens of readers e-mailed their recollections of various sightings.

Most say panthers exist


Some recall stranded circus boat

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer
(Click Photo to enlarge)

One enterprising homeowner raked a bare spot in his yard each afternoon, and eventually captured a paw print during the black panther’s late night prowls.

EASTERN N.C. – Last week’s front-page story, which asked for reader feedback about the possibility of black panthers in our area, generated dozens of responses.

The Nov. 10 story also featured a photo taken in 2001 by Reelsboro resident, Robert ‘Cody’ Griffith, that lacked sufficient detail for a positive identification. E-mails, letters, and phone calls poured in. Readers also stopped our publisher on the street to regale him with their theories and recollections.

Almost all who said they had seen a black panther were reluctant to reveal the exact whereabouts for fear hunters with mal intent — or poachers — might invade the creature’s habitat.

(Click images to enlarge) Photo credit: Robert ‘Cody’ Griffith

(Click images to enlarge) Photo credit: Robert ‘Cody’ Griffith

“I stood eye-to-eye with one for a minute and a half,” said an avid hunter, who asked to remain anonymous. “He was solid black with bright gold eyes.”

Here, for your enjoyment, is a summary of reader comments:

I saw a black panther the first morning after moving to Beaufort County in 2005. There was no doubt that was what I saw. Lots of hunters have seen both the Florida panther (black) and the cougar (brown) in this area, but they don’t talk about it much.

My grandmother Hazel Gallo was born in 1911. She and my great uncle Harry Slade used to tell us kids about a circus boat that came across the river, but ran aground or something happened. All of the animals got loose, but they later rounded up most of them except for a male and a female panther that they could not find. I’m 42, and in the 1980s my great aunt Grace Daniels said she saw a mother panther and her babies while she was riding in her car.

Patricia Ferrara

Benny Scott is a believer.

Benny Scott is a believer.

Ive seen ‘em black, brown, old and young. In 2001, my friend David Simpson, who had serious doubts, ended up taking photos of some (panther) tracks, which I will share with you. That changed his mind.

One real dark night, I pulled up in my truck in a clearing and as I opened the door I saw one run under the truck toward the woods – that was the quickest way for him to go.

In the mid 1980s, I watched a raccoon head out across a field, then he stopped. Reared up on his hind legs, and sniffed the air. Then he turned right around and came back just the way he went. I shined a spotlight in the direction the raccoon had headed and there was a black panther stretched out on the top of an embankment.

I guess you could say I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods, so to speak. I have no doubts. They’re definitely here.

Benny Scott

I’ve seen them several times and I’ve also seen full-grown mountain lions. At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. I want to say ‘baloney’ to anyone who disputes the fact that they are here. There are also cougars and bobcats – some are just like you see out west on the TV – tawny tan with a tail as long as the rest of their body. I have friends Mike Twichell and Al Krelie who will confirm all of this. I’ve stood next to a full-grown cougar in a zoo, and the ones that I have seen around here weren’t that small.

Tim Carawan

I’m writing in response to your last week’s article on a possible local black panther population in Pamlico County. I’m quite sure that your state and federal biologists are mistaken in their belief that this area could never host such a population. Though I don’t know how large it is, I do know that one exists.

One late spring day of 2010 at about sunset I was driving north on highway 306 when huge black cat crossed the road directly in front of me. I was just south of Pamlico Community College when it left the woods on my right, crossed the road, and jumped over the fence on my left with its long black tail trailing behind. It cleared the fence and disappeared into the woods.

I was stunned and at first questioned what I had seen. Domestic cat? No, much too big! Large dog? No, larger, much more graceful, and its tail was too long. Black bear? No, wrong shape and then there’s that long tail! I had seen a panther! Who would believe me?
I mentioned my sighting to several local hunters. Yes, they’d heard about them but never personally witnessed one. One told me that his grandfather had seen one many years ago in a cow pasture.

I continued my research on the computer where I found a reference to a sighting in the late 1960s aboard Camp LeJeune. That time a large group of marines saw it while out training and documented their sighting.

Some years prior to the personal incident I’ve described, at about the same time of day, I was driving slowly in an area of Craven County, which is heavily populated but borders a forested area, when an animal entered the woods close by. I knew what it wasn’t, but couldn’t confirm what it was. I remember telling my husband that I had just seen what appeared to be a black panther. Whoever heard of such in this area? That time I didn’t investigate the possibility further as I was sure I was mistaken. Was I?
I look forward to reading any other responses you receive on this issue.

Sarah Lee Koos
New Bern Resident
Pamlico County Native

That photo is a fake. It might fool some city dwellers but it ain’t fooling somebody who has tracked animals up and down the roads of Virginia and North Carolina for 13 years. I’ve never seen evidence of one — mighty funny EVERY BLACK PANTHER sighting / photo is ambiguous.

Russell White

I agree. The photo is a fake.
John S. Foster

I was surprised and also excited to read your article in the County Compass regarding if anyone knew stories about panther sightings. I was excited because just this past Wednesday 11/10 I had a service repairman come to my home to service my fireplace. We got to talking about the animals down here (as we were originally both from up North) and he mentioned did I know we had black panthers here. He told me he is a hunter and fisherman since he moved here in 1995. One day he was driving on Janeiro Road (as you also mentioned) and he thought it was a small black bear on the edge of the woodline. As he got closer he know thought it was a house cat but it couldn’t be as it was much larger. He said the tail came down like that of a panther and then had that curl at the end. I was so mesmerized by his story and here you are writing about it. I know his name is “Gary” and he works for DAVCO ENERGY SYSTEMS as a technician. If you are interested in talking with him I’m sure if you call Davco they could give you his cell number and you could call and talk with him directly about what he saw. I’m just happy to pass this information along as I just talked with someone that did see one in Pamlico County.

Mrs. Janet Shikoluk
Minnesott Beach (Pamlico County)


I have seen the black panther/cougar with my own two eyes. I KNOW FOR A FACT they are around. One night my husband and I came from church and we saw these strange eyes. The eyes were big, round and green in the headlights . My husband and I drove our car a little closer to get a better look , wow were we surprised! This cat’s back was probably two feet from the ground and he weighed approximately 100lbs. He took off and sprinted through the air like you would see a wild cat on Wild Kingdom! I use to stay up Callison Road, home to the bobcats, but this was no bobcat! This was no house-cat! Whether it was a panther or a black cougar I don’t know. But what I DO KNOW it wasn’t an ordinary cat ! I don’t care what biologist say, they are in Pamlico County!!!

Carolyn K. Davis

I’m writing this concerning the Black Panther (Puma). Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I lived on Florence Road. My friend, a hunter, told me he saw what he believed to be a large black cat. I asked him what he had ‘smoked’ before he went into the woods. I didn’t believe him. But sure enough, a month later while driving up Florence Road towards Merritt, a large black panther (puma) ran right in front of me and my wife. There is no doubt in my mind what I saw. They are here – believe it or not.

Thank you, Lee Early

I love a mystery. I’ve had “encounters” with what could be some species of cougar or panther. I’ll be glad to share with you any info I have, provided I remain anonymous, please.

I will tell you my stories and let you borrow the plaster casts of tracks found on my property provided I get them back and, again, I remain anonymous.


I have been hunting for 43 years and live in a very rural part of Pamlico County. I encountered a panther as recently as three months ago. I have had one looking directly at me – we each froze and looked at each other for what I would guess was probably a minute and a half. It was solid black and bright gold eyes. There is absolutely no mistaking it.

I have also seen one dragging a deer carcass out of a ditch. I think it is absolutely amazing that we have these magnificent creatures here, especially when you consider how many trees have been cut and how many trigger-happy people as we have in this area.

Please do not use my name or tell people where I live – they would be up here looking around and we don’t need that if we want to keep these animals alive and well.


They’re here! I always heard that they were around, and one reason is because they are smart! The biologists and other so-called experts say they go no further north than the Savannah River, but they’ll go where they have to go in order to eat.

Roy Batson

Could this be a black panther?


By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer
(Click images to enlarge) <BR>Photo credit: Robert ‘Cody’ Griffith

(Click images to enlarge) Photo credit: Robert ‘Cody’ Griffith

Several years ago, this reporter wrote a news story about Maureen Bivona’s encounter with what she believed to be a black panther. At the time, Bivona was riding her bike on Janeiro Road near its intersection with Kershaw Road in the southeast corner of Pamlico County.

Bivona swore she had seen a large, black “cat-like” animal crossing Kershaw Road in broad daylight.

After my interview with Bivona, I conferred with both state and federal biologists who explained, quite convincingly, that the habitat, breeding range, and general terrain of our area could never host such an animal.

Yet, several experienced, local hunters quietly confirmed Bivona’s report. However, they refused to go public with their stories for fear that prime local hunting grounds might be closed to preserve an ‘endangered species.’

Other readers called to describe nighttime, plaintive howls unlike those of more familiar local creatures.

Unfortunately, Bivona died about a year ago. I have long wished she had taken her camera along on that biking excursion.

For this reason, the photo above is of great interest, not only to me but also to many in our community.

Snapped in 2002 by Reelsboro resident Robert “Cody” Griffith, who lives with his wife Cee on Halls Creek Road, the photograph depicts the couple’s dog ‘Mickey’ staring across a driveway at what might well be the type of animal once seen by Bivona.

“Mickey was a mix of Scotty and wire-haired dachshund,” explained Griffith. “He passed away three months ago, and we decided to review some of our photos of him. I remember he was going out to his usual spot, but all of a sudden he froze — he didn’t bark. It never occurred to me that he might have seen something – because when I took the picture I did not notice anything unusual. But when Cee and I got to looking over the old photos – we said ‘what the heck is that?’”

My story about Bivona’s sighting generated more reader feedback than any other article I have ever done. And now, the Griffiths’ photo has sparked my interest once again. If you have a theory, story, anecdote – or photo! – about Pamlico County’s real, or fictitious, black panther population, please e-mail

Next week, we’ll print everything that we receive in an attempt to solve this mystery!