After nearly 15 months, arrest made in Raleigh homicide case

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comAugust 1, 2013 

CORRECTION: A crime-solving tip previously reported to have occurred Wednesday did not; it came months ago.

Larry Kenneth “Hunky” Allen’s brothers said a lot of people in their Southeast Raleigh neighborhood knew who was responsible for his death in the spring of 2012. But no one told them the attacker’s name, and it wasn’t until Wednesday that investigators were able to make an arrest.

Police charged Teddy Ray Melvin Jr., 24, of Raleigh with first-degree murder. Allen was 63 when he died on May 2, 2012, six days after being injured in what emergency workers and doctors initially thought was a fall.

The day Allen died, a tipster called police and told them his death was not an accident. After an autopsy, police declared the case a homicide, but progress in the investigation was slow.

“I would call the detectives and ask what was going on. They would tell me they don’t have anything,” said Allen’s brother, Timothy Cofield, 56, who lives a few blocks from where his brother was attacked on Beverly Drive. “People out here were saying who it was.”

But Larry Allen’s family had no idea the suspect was in their midst. Timothy Cofield’s son, Antwan Cofield, 25, of Raleigh, said he talked with Melvin at least twice before his arrest Wednesday.

“He talked like everything was good,” Antwan Cofield said. “Like he didn’t have anything to do with it.”

Police spokesman Jim Sughrue said Thursday that the fatal attack was not a random act, but declined to say how Melvin and Allen knew each other.

Investigation hindered

Sughrue said that it’s “not unusual for detectives to take some time to solve a murder,” but he also noted that the detectives investigating Allen’s death were hindered by the absence of several key elements that are part of most homicide investigations.

To begin with, the case was initially reported as an accident and police weren’t called. That means detectives weren’t able to look for evidence or talk to potential witnesses until well after the fact.

“It was a completely different challenge for detectives to come in several days later and try to piece together some type of evidence,” Sughrue said.

Investigators later learned that the assault did not occur at the home in the 1400 block of Beverly Drive where Allen was found by paramedics, but in the 900 block.

Allen suffered a broken upper left arm and a broken left thigh bone in the attack, but managed to get into his Ford Mustang and drive to his younger brother’s home on Beverly Drive. Allen veered the Mustang into the driveway but was unable to get out of the car. He sat there for about five minutes before family members came outside.

“My nephew and I got him out of the car,” said another of Allen’s brother’s, William Cofield, 51, of Raleigh. “He told us he got jumped. Then he said he fell.”

Victim ‘loved basketball’

Allen died six days later at WakeMed from complications of the bone fractures that included pneumonia, internal bleeding along his stomach wall and liver failure.

Allen was born in Fuquay-Varina and grew up in Raleigh, the oldest of five brothers. He never married and had no children. He graduated from the former J.W. Ligon High School where he played on the basketball team.

“He loved basketball. He watched a lot of sports,” William Cofield said. “Crazy about Carolina.”

Allen, who lived at Glenwood Towers, worked as a maintenance man at the Carolina Country Club and Dorothea Dix Hospital before retiring. He was on dialysis and went to WakeMed three times a week for treatment.

“He wasn’t in no shape,” William Cofield said, but he still managed to walk most days through the Beverly Drive neighborhood.

Police spokesman Jim Sughrue said Thursday that the investigation into Allen’s death is continuing and the outcome may yield more arrests.

That wouldn’t surprise his brother.

“One guy thought it might have been some gang,” Timothy Cofield said. “I’m pretty sure that it was more than one.”

News researcher David Raynor contributed to this report.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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