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Crime News Serial Killers

Serial Killer Suspect In North Carolina Charged With Three Men’s Murders

The body of missing Greensboro man James Goolsby was found after he'd been thrown from a bridge in Henry County, Virginia. Authorities allege he's the third victim of John Mark Richardson. 

By Jax Miller
A police photo of John Richardson

A suspected serial killer in North Carolina is alleged to have killed at least three people after the body of a missing man was found in Virginia earlier this month.

John Mark Richardson, 53, was charged with a number of crimes in connection with the murders of three men between February and March, according to Greensboro’s Fox affiliate WGHP. So far, Richardson is accused of killing Michael Antown Hemphill, 46, Mark Anthony Gilbert Jr., 40, and James Devon Goolsby, 38, but authorities are still investigating the possibility of more victims.

The string of killings came onto authorities' radar beginning on Jan. 25, when officers with the Greensboro Police Department responded to a shooting on Yanceyville Street. According to police, Michael Hemphill was still conscious when responders transported him to a local hospital with a “serious injury.” The 911 caller indicated Hemphill was shot in the head, WGHP reported.

Hemphill succumbed to his injuries on Feb. 1.

A personal photo of Victim Michael Hemphill

On March 10, authorities responded to the 600 block of West Terrell Street after Mark Gilbert Jr. was assaulted at around 1:38 a.m., according to CBS affiliate WFMY. WGHP reported Gilbert was found beaten near a dumpster before his assailant fled in Gilbert’s car with the victim’s wallet and phone.

He later died from his injuries.

“Anyone who knew him [knew] he was a sweetheart. I used to call him a giant teddy bear,” Gilbert’s ex-wife, Lisa Gilbert, told WFMY. “These kids have to suffer from never seeing their dad again. I just wanna know why.”

Separately, Richardson was arrested after police obtained a search warrant for his Byers Road home on April 5, continuing their searches into the following day. Officers found several weapons at the residence, including firearms, knives, and a hatchet.

Jail records show Richardson was booked into the Guilford County Jail on a number of weapons charges, including felony manufacturing or possession of a weapon of mass destruction.

On April 8, Greensboro Police announced the arrest of 38-year-old Jonathan Murphy in connection with Hemphill’s shooting death and other firearms charges. But, according to court records obtained by WGHP, text messages between Murphy and Richardson allegedly linked Richardson to Hemphill’s murder.

Richardson was formally charged with Hemphill’s murder on April 13.

Records show Murphy is still in jail and being held without bond for his charges.

The case gained traction when investigators learned that the body of a missing Greensboro man, James Goolsby, might have turned up in Henry County, Virginia. According to Greensboro/Guilford Crime Stoppers, Goolsby was last seen near Summit Avenue in Greensboro on March 25, just two weeks after Gilbert’s murder.

Captain Milford J. Harris of the Greensboro Police Department emailed a statement to Oxygen.com

"On March 28, 2022, James Devon Goolsby was reported as a missing person to the Greensboro Police Department," said Harris. "Information was gathered throughout the investigation that led detectives to suspect foul play. Through the course of the investigation, a person of interest in Goolsby's disappearance was identified as John Richardson."

Goolsby’s mutilated body was found on April 14 after it “had been dumped off of George Taylor Road,” Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry told the Martinsville Bulletin. WGHP reported his body was dumped off a bridge into the Mayo River in Spencer, Virginia, not far from the North Carolina border.

A photo of James Goolsby from a missing persons poster

On April 19, Richardson was officially charged with Gilbert’s murder, according to the police statement.

Richardson was charged with Goolsby’s death on Friday.

“None of those men deserved that,” Lisa Gilbert continued. “At this point, I’m feeling like he’s a serial killer.”

A possible motive in the killings has not been disclosed.

State prison records show Richardson spent nine years in prison for robbery with a dangerous weapon. Until this year, he had no felony convictions since his 2003 release.

Oxygen.com reached out to the Greensboro Police Department, but calls were not immediately returned. The Guilford County District Attorney’s Office said they could not comment on the case.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-336-373-1000.

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