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Ron Guerette, the detective who assisted on Peterson's 'The Staircase' trial, has died

Former Charlotte homicide detective Ron Guerette talking about investigating the Outlaws killing on July 4, 1979.
Former Charlotte homicide detective Ron Guerette talking about investigating the Outlaws killing on July 4, 1979. tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

Ron Guerette, the gritty detective known to millions for his role in the Michael Peterson murder trial, died on June 19, according to attorney David Rudolf. Guerette was 73.

Guerette was a retired Charlotte police detective who is well known for his work with Rudolf. Guerette is featured prominently in the documentary series "The Staircase," now on Netflix, which follows the Peterson case in Durham.

“Ron was the best and most dedicated investigator I ever worked with," Rudolf said in an email to The News & Observer. "He was an integral part of the Peterson defense, and whatever I was able to accomplish in the courtroom was made possible by what Ron did outside the courtroom. And best of all, he was my friend and brother as we went through the courtroom wars together. He was one of a kind.”

Rudolf also mentioned Guerette's passing on Twitter this weekend after hearing from Guerette's son.

"I spoke to Ron Guerette’s son yesterday. Ron passed away early Tuesday morning. I am hoping to have a celebration of Ron’s life on July 8, and to help his son and daughter start a foundation to support the work Ron was so devoted to all his life."

A memorable career

In addition to his high-profile work on the Peterson case, Guerette is well known for being the lead detective on Charlotte's worst mass killing, the 1979 massacre of five people at the headquarters of the Outlaws motorcycle gang. The case of the Outlaws Massacre, also known as the Fourth of July massacre, was finally closed in 2015.

Homicide detective Ron Guerette recalls the 1979 massacre at a Charlotte motorcycle gang clubhouse. Five people were shot to death in Charlotte's worst mass killing. EDITOR'S NOTE: This video contains graphic content.

Guerette joined the Charlotte Police Department in 1972. After leaving the force and becoming a private investigator in 1982, Guerette worked on some other big cases: the Peterson case, the Rae Carruth murder, the $17 million Loomis-Fargo heist and the George Shinn case (Shinn, the former owner of the Charlotte Hornets, was accused of kidnapping and assaulting a Charlotte woman, but was found not guilty).

A 2016 Charlotte Observer profile of Guerette notes that Guerette grew up one of 14 children in a farm family in Maine and spoke only French until the fifth grade.

“Top brass didn’t care for me,” he told The Observer. “I was the only Yankee there. ... “I’m not a chit-chat guy. I don’t like to walk in and be nice to people because that doesn’t work.”

You've seen 'The Staircase' on Netflix, now hear from the reporters who covered Michael Peterson's murder trial in Durham.

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