The retired minister from Durham found dead in August on the edge of Eno River State Park was strangled to death, according to an autopsy report released Wednesday.
Kent Torrey Hinkson, 71, also suffered blunt-force trauma to the head that could have contributed to his death, according to Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Hinkson was found dead in an area of the state park near the intersection of U.S. 70 and Interstate 85 in Orange County about a week after his family in Durham reported him missing.
Hinkson told his family he was going out to run errands Aug. 4 and never returned. He was supposed to be back in time for a dinner party, according to a search warrant in the case.
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Matthew John Reed, 36, who listed his address as 3243 Calumet Court in Raleigh, has been accused of murder in connection to the death.
A warrant released in September stated Reed told his mother he had killed someone in a case linked to “sex, money, and a person with a prominent position in the community.”
Hinkson, a former pastor at Presbyterian churches in Texas, California and Florida, was a volunteer at All Saints Church in Durham. He led Bible studies and helped provide pastoral care to shut-ins from the Durham church.
Reed met Hinkson at a McDonald’s in Durham, according to a search warrant, and they drove around town before going to the park.
Investigators contend that Reed tried to blackmail Hinkson over a possible sexual encounter the night of his death.
Hinkson’s body was partially decomposed when Reed took law enforcement officers to the site, according to court documents. He was found with his pants around his ankles and appeared to have a belt around his neck, they state.
Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall has said that he does not plan to pursue the death penalty in the case.