Letters to the Editor

Robert Schurmeier: SBI: Johnny Goins killed Julian Pierce

The Feb. 19 news article “28 years later, a question resurfaces: Who killed Julian Pierce?” about the murder of Julian Pierce raised two key issues that we believe merit clarification.

First, SBI Agent James Bowman along with other law enforcement officers were knocking on the door of Johnny Goins’ residence with the intent to arrest Goins for the murder of Pierce when they heard the fatal gunshot that ended Goins’ life. They entered the residence and located only Goins inside who had suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The timeframe between Goins shooting himself and law enforcement entering the crime scene was virtually instantaneous. No other suspects or independent witnesses were located.

Second, it was inferred the location of Goins’ wound, the positioning of the weapon and the close quarters of the closet left open the possibility that this could not have been a suicide. Experienced homicide investigators would always point out not to assume that something that appears improbable did not occur.

The totality of this investigation, including numerous reviews by law enforcement and experienced prosecutors, leads to only one conclusion: Julian Pierce was murdered by Johnny Goins, who took his own life when law enforcement arrived to arrest him for murder.

With regard to whether the possibility that law enforcement corruption played any role in the outcome of this investigation, the following should be noted. The SBI is not an agency to turn away from alleged police corruption as demonstrated when District Attorney Johnson Britt called on the bureau 15 years ago to investigate possible misconduct in the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office.

The SBI’s investigation turned into Operation Tarnished Badge, the largest investigation of police corruption in state history.

The SBI is saddened by the murder of Pierce, and we grieve with the family for their loss. But we are steadfast in the conclusions made in our case against Johnny Goins.

Robert Schurmeier

SBI Director


The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the article.