The manhunt for John Peck is finally over. Late Monday night Park Rangers in the Great Smoky National Forest found Peck's body lying face down in a creek near his wrecked truck, about seven miles north of Cherokee.
"We're all tired, hungry and sleepy," New Hanover County Chief Deputy Sheriff Tom Parker said. "But we're glad this investigation has come to a conclusion."
Authorities say Peck approached a roadblock on US 441, and turned his car around before he reached the officers.
Shots were then fired by Peck and Park Rangers, and Peck led the officers on a chase. Peck's car wrecked several miles north of the roadblock and rolled down a 60-foot embankment. The road was closed all day Tuesday while investigators combed the scene.
"It was dark, the road was wet and he probably could not see where he was going," Parker said.
It is not clear how Peck died. It will likely be at least two days until autopsy results are revealed.
Peck was wanted for the murder of UNCW student Christen Naujoks. She was shot 11 times in front of her Northchase apartment Friday night. Authorities say Peck killed Naujoks because she had recently accused him of stalking her.
Meantime, on Spofford Circle where Peck lived in Wilmington, neighbors seem a bit relieved.
"I'm sad for his family and sad for the family of the girl who was killed," says Peck's next-door neighbor, Joyce Barefoot. "But we're all relieved it's over."
Investigators say Peck had a death list of people he wanted to kill. On that list: Naujoks, her parents, Peck's therapist and his own mother.
They believe he left Wilmington Saturday after calling his father. He headed north to Burlington, then southwest to Charlotte, then all the way to Johnson City, Tenn. Later, he headed to Asheville before his final trip to the Great Smoky National Forest, where he died.
Reported by Aaron Saykin
322 Shipyard Boulevard