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Man Arrested In 1992 Murder Of Woman Once Thought The Victim Of A Serial Killer
Nona Cobb was once thought to be the victim of a serial killer Sean Patrick Goble, but DNA connected the 30-year-old murder to a man in Mississippi: Warren Alexander.
A Mississippi man is under arrest after authorities said he killed a woman in North Carolina 30 years ago.
Warren Luther Alexander, 71, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with the July 1992 murder of Nona Stamey Cobb, according to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Authorities say Cobb’s body was found on the northbound side of Interstate 77 near Elkin in Surry County.
The 29-year-old victim was strangled to death, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. Alexander would have been 41 at the time.
Witnesses last saw Cobb on July 6, 1992 as she climbed into a truck with an unknown man at a Cleveland County rest area on Interstate 85, the Journal reported. Her body was found at 6:15 a.m. the following day.
Cobb’s sister, Vickie S. Gregory, told the Journal back in 1992 that her sister had a 3-year-old son, Josh, of whom she'd lost custody seven months before her death. Gregory — who, with her husband, had been granted custody of Josh — claimed her sister was a widow who struggled with substance abuse.
“She loved us, and we loved her,” said Gregory. “Just because you do something wrong doesn’t mean you stop loving her.”
The Surry County Sheriff’s Office requested the state bureau's assistance with investigation, but there were no leads on who might have killed Cobb.
Theories, however, swirled in April 1995 when a truck driver named Sean Patrick Goble, then 28, confessed to the murders of Brenda Kay Hagy, 45, Sherry Tew Mansur, 34, and Alice Rebecca Hanes, 36, according to a 1995 article from the Virginia-Pilot. Goble, of Asheboro, North Carolina, targeted sex workers and transported them over state lines before dumping their bodies on varying interstates.
Investigators looked into dozens of murders over several states that matched Goble’s pattern, including Nona Cobb’s, according to The Courier-Tribune.
Four of those murders were in North Carolina alone; they remain unsolved today.
But in 1995, Goble was excluded as a suspect in Cobb's death when his DNA did not match the semen collected from Cobb’s body, per the Journal. Prison records show Goble is currently serving a life sentence in Tennessee.
Investigators wouldn’t catch a break in Cobb’s murder for another 26 years.
“In April of 2021, special agents from the SBI’s Cold Case Investigation Unit and investigators from the Surry County Sheriff’s Office returned to the physical evidence in the case, which was reexamined to include DNA,” wrote the State Bureau. “While working with Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick, founder of Identifiers International LLC, agents were able to identify Warren Luther Alexander as a possible suspect in Cobb’s murder using DNA.”
Alexander was arrested in Diamondhead, Mississippi, on Tuesday and booked into the Hancock County Jail on charges of murder, according to the State Bureau. Authorities say they’re looking into the possibility of more victims.
Authorities did not reveal if they were looking into possible connections between Alexander and the unsolved North Carolina murder cases in which Goble was previously a suspect, as reported by the Journal. As of 2015, those murders included an unidentified woman’s skull found in Asheboro in the late 1990s, an unidentified woman last seen at a Burlington rest area in 1990, a sex worker named Cheryl Mason who was found in Guilford County in 1991, and an unidentified woman found in Guilford County in 1995.
A press conference is expected upon Alexander’s extradition back to North Carolina.