Man charged in slaying after body of missing man found
The body of 71-year-old Kent Hinkson was found early Sunday morning in the Eno River State Park in Orange County. A short time later, authorities said they had a suspect in custody, charged in connection with his murder.
Hinkson, a pastor for more than 40 years, was reported missing Aug. 4, after not coming home from running errands. That night police found his cellphone off Hillsborough Road, near Bennett Place, where he was a volunteer. Last week family and friends hosted multiple search parties to find Hinkson. By midweek, his car was found in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the 1800 block of Williamsburg Road near Hope Valley.
Hinkson’s body was found in the Orange County portion of the Eno River State Park. Police have not said how his body was found, nor have they released the cause of death.
Thirty-six-year-old Matthew Reed is in custody at Orange County Jail in connection with Hinkson’s death. He has been charged with first-degree murder and will have his first court appearance today.
It was not the outcome Hinkson’s family and friends had wanted, but they said his death is part of God’s “perfect plans.”
“We are devastated by the loss and the nature of this heinous act. We are hurting immensely. At the same time, we know God has a perfect plan,” Jeline Hinkson, Kent’s wife, wrote in statement. “We know Kent is in a much better place. We thank God for how he has been with us in the midst of this devastating tragedy.” The couple would have celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary last week.
Kevin Anselmo, family friend and spokesman for the Hinksons, said Sunday was a tough day, not only for Hinkson’s wife and children, but for everyone who knew him.
“As you can appreciate and understand, it is a difficult time for them,” he said. “The sadness is unimaginable. The grief is very profound.”
Hinkson’s family was notified about 2:30 a.m. on Sunday about the discovery.
Since the discovery the family has received an outpouring of support from not only the Durham community, but from around the world, Anselmo said.
“Strangers, as well his friends and the people whose lives he touched throughout the years are just writing the most beautiful things,” he said. “It’s hard to read those things without being overcome by emotion.”
Anselmo said throughout the disappearance and discovery Jeline Hinkson stayed strong and helped support the family.
“I was speaking with her and I’m crying expressing my sorrow, and she’s telling me that everything is going to be OK,” he said. “Her faith in Christ has been so adamant this week.”
It’s through their faith that they’ve been able stay strong, Anselmo said.
“It hurts immensely, you can’t describe it,” he said. “You can’t describe the pain we’re all feeling. Yet there is a hope that somehow in the midst of tragedy, we know God has a perfect plan.”
That faith has been one of the biggest support systems for the Hinksons throughout the investigation. Two prayer vigils were held over the course of the week, and multiple search parties were organized to try and bring Hinkson home safely.
“It’s just been life-saving (having that support),” Jeline Hinkson told The Herald-Sun last week.
Anselmo said that faith has been on full display since the beginning.
“We want to thank the global church, the body of Christ has been on full display this week,” he said.
Brian Ellison, another family friend, said that steadfast faith impressed him even after receiving the news that Kent Hinkson’s body had been found.
“It seems a little strange, I suppose, that this news they received early this morning was both sad and it was happy,” Ellison said. “Sad, in that Kent is not longer with us … But happy … Kent is in a better place, Kent is with the Lord.”
Family and friends say even with an arrest, many questions remain unanswered.
It is unclear if Hinkson knew Reed, or what the motive for murder may have been.
A search of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s offender search did not turn up any information about Reed’s past.
Anselmo and Ellison echoed the thanks of the Hinkson family for the support from the Durham Police Department and other authorities, the media, the community and the faith community around them.
Now Hinkson’s family and friends are coming together to move on the best way they can.
“(We’re going to) just hold each other close, not be afraid to cry on each other’s shoulders, not afraid to be angry,” Ellison said.