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A North Carolina man was arrested after authorities say he murdered and dismembered his roommate and also dismembered the body of a missing woman.
Matthew Cooley, 34, was arrested on Monday at his Forest City residence on charges of murder and four counts of concealing and failing to report a death, according to CBS affiliate WSPA 7 News. Deputies with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office stated they responded to a call shortly before 2:30 p.m. and discovered the bodies of Jason VanDyke, 44, and Tracy McKinney, 42. ABC 13 News reported that the victims were found in a burn pile on the property.
Tracy McKinney’s family reported her missing from the nearby town of Ellenboro on Dec. 26, according to NBC affiliate WYFF.
Cooley and his victim, VanDyke, reportedly lived together at the 482 Morningstar Lake Road address.
Authorities found probable cause to believe that Cooley murdered VanDyke sometime between Dec. 25 and Dec. 27 before dismembering his body, according to the warrant for his arrest.
Although Cooley is accused of dismembering McKinney’s body sometime between Dec. 15 and Dec. 27, he is not currently charged in her death.
While VanDyke’s death is being investigated as a homicide, McKinney’s manner of death has not yet been determined. Autopsies are expected to be performed on Thursday.
Sandy Carver, a neighbor of Cooley and VanDyke, spoke to WSPA about the crime.
“It blew my mind that something like that would happen this close to home – right at our back door,” said Carver. “We’ve been here 27 years and nothing like that has ever happened, and it’s scary. I couldn’t believe it. It still is. It’s like a movie.”
“It leaves a lasting impression of fear,” continued Carver. “When it’s this close.”
Suspect Matthew Cooley is no stranger to authorities, according to Rutherford County Sheriff Chris Francis, who noted his criminal past in an interview with ABC 13.
“I’m familiar with Matthew Thomas Cooley from dealing with him in the past,” said Francis. “I know we sent him to prison for five to six years for manufacturing or selling methamphetamine in the last 10 years.”
Cooley has a lengthy criminal background, including charges related to methamphetamines and motor vehicle larceny, according to arrest records.
Francis also claimed deputies had been called to the Morningstar Lake Road property where Cooley and his male victim lived on multiple occasions.
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