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2 Sons Of A North Carolina Pastor Commit An Ungodly Murder For Money
Ted Kimble liked spending money he didn't have. Ronnie Kimble Jr. did whatever Ted told him. And Ted's wife, Patricia, ended up dead.
When the Pleasant Garden, North Carolina firefighters received the 911 call about a house fire just before 9:00 p.m. on Oct. 9, 1995, they had reason to worry.
"The caller states that he is the homeowner’s brother and he’s concerned that his sister, 28-year-old Patricia Kimble, may be trapped in the house," Guilford County Sheriff’s Department detective Steven McBride told "Killer Siblings," airing Fridays at 8/7c on Oxygen. The caller was Reuben Blakley.
"Anytime you hear someone may be trapped inside the home," explained firefighter Todd Ross, "it automatically raises the level of intensity."
Ross, Chad Garrett, and Bradley Faulk (a former classmate of Patricia's husband, Ted Kimble) entered the burning, smoke-filled home through a side door. While advancing, Faulk and Ross fell three feet through a hole in the floor, winding up in the home's pitch-black crawlspace.
"Some other firefighters had come in behind us with their flashlights," Faulk said. "And one of the firefighters said, ‘Does that look like a hand?’"
They realized a body was in the hole. It was burnt beyond recognition.
After the fire was out and the body recovered, investigators discovered the master bedroom had been ransacked and the back door had been pried open.
Other NC SBI investigators on the scene began talking to suspected victim Patrica Kimble's husband, homeowner Ted Kimble. He said that his wife was supposed to have been at a Bible study at their church, but her car was at the house and no one could reach her.
By 1:00 a.m., it was determined that the hole in the floor was the result of gasoline being poured on and around the body.
“This was actually a textbook case for arson,” Guilford County EMS chief fire inspector Edward Rich told producers.
But the break-in and ransacking didn't make sense.
"Burglars usually try to get away with whatever they come to get," said Guilford County Sheriff B.J. Barnes. "They don’t usually set the house on fire."
The following day, the medical examiner confirmed via dental records that it was Patricia Kimble whose body was found at the scene — and that somebody had shot her in the back of the head around 4:00 p.m.
Investigators began interviewing Patricia Kimble's friends and family, starting with those at the South Elm Street Baptist Church, where she and Ted Kimble originally met, to learn more about Patricia.
Patricia Blakley Kimble grew up in nearby Greensboro, attended the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and moved to the Pleasant Valley area after college to take an apartment complex management job, according to the Greensboro News & Record.
Ted Kimble and his brother, Ronnie Kimble Jr., had grown up in Pleasant Garden; their father, Ron Kimble Sr. had become a pastor at the Monnett Road Baptist Church in town in the mid-1970s.
Ted started working at the nearby Lyles Building Supply in Greenboro in high school, hoping to take over when its proprietor, Gary Lyles, retired. In April 1993, when he was 22, Ronnie Kimble Jr. joined the Marines and eventually ended up stationed four hours away at Camp Lejeune and working in the chaplain's office.
Shortly after Ronnie joined the Marines, Ted joined the South Elm Street Baptist Church where he met Patricia — through her cousin, Janet Blakley, who Ted was dating at the time, according to the News & Record. Her friends told producers that Patricia was immediately smitten and when the two began dating, they became inseparable.
Gary Lyles, however, told the News & Record that Ted quietly ping-ponged between the two cousins for a while; he and Janet Blakley only broke up for good after she declined Ted's marriage proposal in October 1993.
"Following a very short engagement," explained Pleasant Garden resident Lynn Chandler Willis — founder of the Pleasant Garden Post and author of "Unholy Covenant," a book about Patricia Kimble's murder, "on May 7, 1994, Ted Kimble and Patricia were married.”
Lyles, though, told the News & Record that he and Ted's parents were witnesses when the two married in a secret civil ceremony in Virginia on Dec. 21, 1993. (One potential reason was that Lyles wanted to pass his business on to a married man with a "sensible" wife. He sold the business to Ted at a reduced price with a five-year payment plan shortly after the first wedding.)
On Oct. 10, 1995 — the afternoon after Patricia's murder — Ted told detectives that, on the day of the murder, he'd gone to Lyles, worked until 6:00 p.m. and headed straight to his second job at Precision Fabrics in Greensboro. When friends told him that Patricia hadn't show up at Bible study, he'd attempted to call their house and gotten no answer. That's when he called Reuben Blakley, her brother, to go check in on her.
Both of his alibis were verified by his co-workers.
Patricia's coworkers provided a vital clue though: She'd left work at 3:30 to go mow her lawn. However, her car was partially parked on the lawn after the fire — as though there was another car in the driveway when she'd arrived.
"She had to know who that person was or she wouldn’t have gone into the house — a house that had been burgled before," explained Sheriff Barnes.
In the week after the murder, investigators discovered that the Kimble marriage was not as happy as they'd initially been told. Ted was reportedly a profligate spender who had taken out a $200,000 life insurance policy on Patricia on Sept. 12, 1995. Patricia had told friends that Ted forged her signature on it.
"She looked at me and said, ‘What’s he gonna do, knock me off?’" her friend and coworker Kristy Newbold told producers.
Ted tried to collect on the policy just two days after the death of his wife.
The only Kimble family member left to talk to was Ronnie Kimble, Jr., who was stationed at Camp Lejeune but maintained a residence with his wife, Kimberly, in Pleasant Garden. Investigators interviewed her and discovered that Ronnie had been on leave and in Pleasant Garden the day of the murder — and had spent time with his brother, Ted, who hadn't mentioned that fact. He'd returned home around 5:00 p.m.
Friends say that Ronnie had always been in his older brother's thrall.
"Ted could manipulate Ronnie and Ronnie would do anything his older brother asked him to do," Faulk, who went to school with the brothers, told producers.
Ronnie told investigators he'd gone to his brother's around 7:00 a.m. the day of the murder to use Ted's car to transport building supplies and joined Ted at Lyles' around 1:00 p.m., remaining for two hours. He claimed that he returned the car to Ted's house and drove straight to his own. But there was still a two-hour gap until he arrived home — and the drive from Lyles' to Ted's and then to Ronnie's home should have only taken about 50 minutes.
Ronnie was asked to take a lie detector test and agreed, but said he had to check with his brother first. When investigators followed up, he refused.
On Jan. 25, 1997, the Guilford County Sheriff's Office got a call from Liberty University founder Rev. Jerry Falwell. He told them that one of his students, Mitch Whidden, had information on the case.
Whidden told them that his buddy from Camp Lejeune, Ronnie Kimble Jr., had stopped by for a visit on Jan. 23 and eventually confessed in great detail to the murder of his sister-in-law, Patricia Kimble. Ronnie told Whidden that he killed Patricia at Ted's request because Ted wanted the insurance money.
"Ronnie told Mitch that he couldn’t say no to his older brother, he’d rather die," explained McBride.
On the day of Patricia's murder, Ronnie said he went to Ted's house after leaving Lyles', parked in the driveway, and broke in through the back door. He hid in the bathroom until Patricia got home. When Patricia passed by the door of the bathroom, Ronnie said, he emerged from hiding and shot her in the back of the head. He then ransacked the house, poured gasoline all over her body, and lit the home on fire.
Ronnie, Whidden said, asked him to forgive him for the murder but he was so disturbed by the revelation that he asked Ronnie to leave his home and ultimately sought counsel from Falwell.
The Kimble brothers were arrested on April 1, 1997 and sent to different jails in the hopes that one would confess to the crime. Neither did.
Then, in November 1997, Ted Kimble was indicted on more than 20 counts of breaking, entering and larceny, according to the paper. A search of his business in the wake of the arrest turned up what the paper called "truckloads" of stolen building supplies, including "four go-carts, lumber, windows, appliances and cabinets." Ted and Patricia's friend, Patrick Pardee, and another Lyles employee, Robert Nicholes, were indicted as well. Investigators said the other two men stole the materials from 20 businesses and Ted had resold the stolen goods through Lyles.
Pardee and Nicholes entered into plea agreements with prosecutors in exchange for their testimony against the Kimbles and recommendations of probation, according to the paper. Ted Kimble pled guilty to the building supply charges in December 1997.
Ronnie Kimble Jr. went to trial on Aug.10, 1998. The defense tried to claim that Ronnie Kimble Jr. had been describing a bad dream to Whidden, rather than confessing. The jury didn't buy it: After two days of deliberations, on Sept. 2, 1998, they found him guilty. He was ultimately sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
On Dec. 22, 1998 — about a month before his trial was scheduled to start — Ted Kimble was issued a prison infraction of attempting to mount an escape, according to prison records and the News & Record. Sheriff Barnes told the paper that a search of Ted's cell turned up detailed maps of the courthouse (including the holding cells), and a "hit list" of eight witnesses scheduled to testify against him, including Whidden, Pardee, Gary Lyles, and Lyles' wife, Rose.
The search was reportedly prompted by Ted's attempt to hire another inmate to kill those people, offering him $100,000; Ted told the inmate that he had another man on the outside ready to commit those murders. (No one else was arrested in the case nor identified publicly by investigators, according to the News & Record.)
On Jan 28, 1999, Ted Kimble pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, first-degree arson, and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. He also entered an Alford plea — in which he agreed to be treated as guilty without admitting to it — to eight counts of solicitation to commit murder related to the witnesses he wanted killed.
As part of the plea agreement, he'd agreed to return Patricia Kimble's ashes to her parents, but, at his sentencing hearing, he claimed he'd already scattered them.
At the hearing, Patricia Kimble's parents testified that they still feared for their lives and believed Kimble would continue his efforts to escape. North Carolina prison records suggest they were correct: Records of his infractions while incarcerated include two for "escape," in 2003 and 2005.
Ted is currently housed at the medium-security Nash Correctional Institute, to which he was transferred in 2019. His projected release date on the final consecutive sentence in his case is 2108 — shortly before what would be his 139th birthday.
Ronnie Kimble Jr. is incarcerated at the medium-minimum security Sampson Correctional Institute, to which he was transferred in June.