Two Durham women were murdered 25 years ago. Were the killings connected?

The murders of Frances Wheedleton and Kimberly Thompson in 1994 may have been related.
The murders of Frances Wheedleton and Kimberly Thompson in 1994 may have been related. Durham Police Department

At 8 a.m. on a February morning in 1994, a man was cleaning up outside the Durham Substance Abuse Clinic at 904 E. Ramseur St. when he stumbled upon the body of Frances “Dee Dee” Wheedleton. The 35-year-old woman had been shot twice..

Five days later, a car sped away from 504 Holloway St. around 5 a.m. following a disturbance and gunfire. Police found 24-year-old Kimberly Thompson, lifeless with a single gunshot wound in her back on an air conditioning unit just a mile from where Wheedleton had died.

A quarter century later investigators now believe the women’s deaths were connected.

They were both killed during the early morning hours.

They were both shot with the same type and caliber weapon.

There is evidence that both women worked or may have worked as prostitutes.

Wheedleton had been found guilty of loitering for prostitution in 1992 and Thompson had a charge of prostitution in 1993 that was dismissed, according to court records.

Sgt Raul Garcia, with the Durham Police Department’s homicide unit, says police are hoping for tips from the community.

“We still do care about these people even though it was so long ago,” he said. “We just need the community to step up and say ‘this is what I know.’”

Both locations fall within the 2-square-mile area in Northeast Central Durham that police later targeted in “Operation Bull’s Eye,” an effort focusing on gun crime, gang activity and prostitution.

For six years beginning in 2007, police deployed extra officers and resources to the area. By 2014, reported violent crime was down 39% and prostitution calls down 61%, The News & Observer previously reported.

Police ask anyone who may have information on these cases to call the Durham Police Department’s Homicide Cold Case tip line at 919-560-4118, CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200 or the Criminal Investigations Division of the Durham Police Department at 919-560-4440.

Ashad Hajela reports on public safety for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He studied journalism at New York University.