In 2015, police found a 72-year-old grandfather slumped inside his Toyota Corolla in the parking lot of a Dollar Tree, dead and bloody from blows to the head.
Luciano Andia’s pants pockets had been slashed open and his wallet taken, police said at the time. The Venezuela native was a well-known employee at the Cary store, one of two jobs he worked to support his family, where customers described him as friendly and helpful.
“I only knew this kind gentle man from my visits to the Dollar Tree, but he was such a kind soul and it saddens me to know this has happened,” wrote Donna Stafford on a GoFundMe page posted after his death. “God has a new angel.”
On Monday, the murder trial begins for Dwight Anthony Blount, 58, the man charged in Andia’s death.
Blount served nearly 12 years for a second-degree murder in Durham before his parole in 2005. He faces a life sentence if convicted in Andia’s death.
Rare Cary killing
The slaying at Dollar Tree marked a rare homicide in Cary that investigators believe was random. Shortly after Blount’s arrest, prosecutors said the suspect likely did not know his victim. Two cars near Andia’s had their windows broken out and appeared to have been searched.
Police arrested Blount after finding a fingerprint on one of the other cars. Detectives also saw surveillance footage of a Toyota Corolla going through the drive-through window at a nearby Biscuitville around the time of Andia’s death, driven by a man matching Blount’s description. The car was also spotted at other businesses near the crime scene, where the dead man’s debit card was used, according to search warrants at the time.
A few days after Blount’s arrest, police searched the trash bin outside his Buckingham Court apartment, warrants said. Along with Andia’s Visa card, officers found receipts and a Walmart bag “containing an object covered in a red, dried liquid consistent with human blood.”
Andia also worked for the American Sexual Health Association, a nonprofit that promotes healthy sex practices. As a phone agent, he spoke to strangers about sensitive topics, a challenge co-workers described as easier for him because of his caring nature.
Neighbors and co-workers at the time said Andia had come from Venezuela many years before to escape violence there. They often saw him taking his grandchildren to school in the morning despite back pain, resisting their suggestions that he see a doctor.
The GoFundMe campaign to help with funeral expenses raised more than $11,000 — much of it from Dollar Tree customers.