Two years after the fatal shooting of Sara Dixon, investigators in Alamance County, North Carolina, got their first major lead.
Dixon, 68, was killed in her sleep on Nov. 30, 2007, and while authorities initially suspected her stepson, Dennis Dixon, had something to do with the murder, he had a verified alibi and no evidence tying him to the crime scene.
It wasn’t until his friend, Jamie Blaylock, came forward with case-breaking information that Dennis was arrested in connection with Sara’s murder.
Blaylock told investigators from the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office that prior to the shooting, he had been working on a car motor with Dennis and his friend, Thomas Clay Friday. Blaylock said that when Friday asked Dennis how his stepmother was doing, Dennis said that he could not “stand this woman.”
Ever since Dennis’ father, Cardwell Dixon, suffered a stroke in 2004, the two had engaged in several arguments over how to care for him. When it was determined that Carwell would require around-the-clock care, Sara placed her husband in a nursing home, which put a financial burden on the family.
Dennis and his brother, Alan Dixon, were set to inherit Cardwell’s money, property and six figures’ worth of assets once their father died, but Sara had to start “selling, liquidating whatever she had to do to make sure he was taken care of,” friend Christy Brown told “Criminal Confessions.”
“[The] inheritance ... was now being spent to care for Carwell Dixon at a nursing home,” said Alamance County District Attorney Sean Boone. “Sara Dixon had sole responsibility for the type of care that Cardwell Dixon received. What it comes down to is, if you get rid of Sara Dixon, Alan and Dennis would have had the ability to take control over how best to care for their father while maintaining the inheritance.”
Dennis went on to tell Blaylock and Friday that his father was “in bad shape,” complaining that he wouldn’t receive any of the inheritance.
“He was pretty mad about it … Dennis said, ‘Something’s gotta be done. I’d be willing to give someone $5,000 to smoke her ass,’” Blaylock said.
As the three started packing up, Friday was saying “little things about ‘$5,000 will buy me this and buy me that,’” Blaylock said.
When investigators looked into Friday’s background, they discovered he was a convicted felon who had prior arrests for robberies, break-ins and assaults. Blaylock also revealed Friday had a 9mm gun — the same caliber weapon that was used in Sara’s shooting — that he kept in a white box.
By examining Friday’s phone records, detectives found 13 calls were made between Friday and Dennis on the day of the murder. Over the next several days, Dennis made multiple cash withdrawals that corresponded with phone calls between Friday and Dennis. Cell towers confirmed that after the calls, Friday made his way to Alamance County, close to the bank’s location.
Arrest warrants were issued for both Dennis and Friday for first-degree murder. While Dennis hired an attorney and refused to make a statement, Friday spoke with the sheriff’s office and ultimately admitted that Dennis approached him looking for someone to “take care” of Sara for $10,000.
Friday got in touch with his former girlfriend’s son, Matthew Fields, and offered to pay him $2,000 to help him commit the murder. Fields was brought in for questioning and admitted to killing Sara after Friday forced him to pull the trigger.
Hoping to track down the murder weapon, investigators listened to Friday’s jailhouse calls, and in one conversation with a friend, Friday told him to get rid of a “white box.”
“It needs to go somewhere … Please get that done. This is a matter of the rest of my life,” Friday said.
The man cooperated with law enforcement and confessed that he had thrown it into a nearby lake, which was then searched by a dive team. On the third day, a 9mm firearm was found bearing the same serial number as the one Friday had.
To avoid the death penalty, Friday pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Fields was found guilty of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and sentenced to just over 20 years in prison.
Dennis was found guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and burglary in the first degree. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Cardwell has since passed away.
“To my knowledge, he never knew about his son’s involvement in the murder of Sara Dixon,” Boone told “Criminal Confessions.”
To hear more about the case, watch “Criminal Confessions” now on Oxygen.
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