HILLSBOROUGH — Sheriff's investigators and State Bureau of Investigation agents have charged two young men with murder in connection with Wednesday's double slaying of two friends at a thrift store in rural northwestern Orange County.
Curtis White, 18, of Cedar Grove and Ladell Alverez Faucette, 22, of McLeansville were arrested this morning and each charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of robbery with a dangerous weapon.
Both men also were charged with robbing the Sam's Food Mart on U.S. 70 in Mebane on Tuesday.
Both men were on probation, according to the Department of Correction. Faucette was on probation after being convicted in Alamance County in January 2011 of stealing a motor vehicle. White was on probation after being convicted on several charges, including possession of stolen goods.
Orange County sheriff's officials said they would not comment on the arrests because their investigation is not over.
White and Faucette are accused of killing former sheriff's deputy Alexander "Skip" Wade, 68, and store owner Phillip Earl Johnson, 52. They were shot multiple times Wednesday afternoon at the Week In Treasures thrift store at Carr Store and Mill Creek roads.
The men are believed to have been shot between 2 and 4 p.m. Wednesday, he said. A woman who stopped by to pick up Wade told deputies she blew her car horn twice and then went inside to find him. Instead, she found the men lying on the floor and blood all around, said Maj. Charles Blackwood of the sheriff's office. The woman left the store and called 911 at 3:57 p.m.
Deputies arrived within minutes. Wade was dead at the scene. Emergency responders rushed Johnson, who was unconscious but still breathing, to Duke Hospital, where he died.
Blackwood said investigators were at the scene until 4 a.m. Thursday but couldn't say whether the crime was random. A cash register drawer was missing, he said.
Another man, Bill King, was shot and killed in 2004 during a robbery at the then-bait and tackle shop and country store. His murder was never solved. Investigators don't know whether the deaths are related but are considering every option, Blackwood said.
No one was home Thursday at Johnson's address, just a few miles from the store and Wade's house. Calls to the home also went unanswered. The Sheriff's Office is withholding information about the families for now, Blackwood said.
Wade's family greeted a steady stream of friends and relatives at his home. The lifelong Orange County resident graduated in 1961 from Central High School, his family said.
He knew and respected everybody, even the people he had to arrest, his brother Randy Wade said.
In May 2010, Wade escorted his son, Lemario Deon Wade, now 30, to the Mebane Police Department, where he was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a 23-year-old man outside a Mebane bar.
Wade testified during his son's bail hearing that Lemario Wade returned home that morning and was acting strange. Lemario Wade then gave his father a gun and told him what happened, Wade testified. He sealed the gun in a plastic bag before taking his son to police the next day.
According to court records, the murder charge against Lemario Wade remains pending. According to published reports, he could face life in prison without parole if convicted.
Wade was an Orange County deputy for more than 25 years, joining the force in 1978. He was a "tenacious investigator," Blackwood said.
"Skip was a great guy. ... He was a character. He was funny," he said. "If something was up, he'd stay until it was finished."
After retirement, friends and family said, Wade enjoyed two passions: playing pool and fishing. He often brought home fish to eat and to give away, they said.
He and his wife owned the thrift shop property, where he frequently stopped to hang out with Johnson, his closest friend, family said. Wade's nephew Jarrel Williams said the pair regularly played pool together, winning the American Poolplayers Association regionals last year in Raleigh and traveling to Las Vegas to compete in the nationals.
Williams, 25, lived with his aunt and uncle since 1996 and said Wade, whom he last saw Wednesday morning, was more "like my father." Some of the best memories were trips to Daytona Beach, Fla., when he was an eighth-grader, and later to Las Vegas, he said.
Although he could be stern if you did something wrong, "he was always joking," Williams said. "He was full of laughter."
Cecile Pettiford said she had known Wade for years and would see him when she passed the store or catch a glimpse of him fishing at a nearby beaver dam. Wade was a good man and also good at his job, she said. Years earlier, when her house was robbed, he came out and made sure everything was all right, Pettiford said. He also caught the guy who robbed her.
On Wednesday afternoon, instead of passing the store, Pettiford decided to take another road toward Hillsborough. Otherwise, she might have seen the suspects, she said.
"It's really scary that somebody would do something like that," she said, blinking back tears.
Investigators are asking anyone who may have seen a vehicle or people near the store between 2 and 4 p.m. Wednesday to call Investigator Archie Daniel at 919-644-3050. Blackwood said it could be something as simple as a car parked on the side of the road or in the parking lot, and callers can remain anonymous.
News researcher David Raynor contributed to this report.