WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – For the first time, a man who was once considered a suspect in an unsolved murder in New Hanover County is talking to us about the crime.
Nearly 18 years ago, Barbara Anderson was killed. Her body was dumped along River Road. Her killer was never caught.
Michael Herd called WECT when he saw we were working on a story about the Barbara Anderson cold case. He told us, and investigators confirm, he was once considered a suspect in the case.
Herd said his connection to the case makes him emotional.
"Upset because my name was brought up into this, angry because they looking at me as some type of a suspect, some kind of a killer or a murderer," Herd said. "Sad because my friend is gone. Nothing's going to bring her back."
He describes Anderson as a nice person, who believed in the power of prayer. Herd said he was close with Anderson before her death in June of 1997.
Anderson's killer used a hanger to strangle the life out of her and left her with a laundry bag over her head and her body wrapped in bed sheets. A fisherman later found her body.
While her family was mourning, investigators turned their attention to Herd who was brought in for questioning.
"When I was down there talking to detectives, they sent two others to my home asking (my girlfriend) about my alibi and were there blankets missing out of the house," he said. "Of course, I was with her and there were no blankets missing out of my house."
More than a year prior to her death, Anderson pressed charges against Herd for assault on a female and took out a restraining order against him. He says that situation was a misunderstanding and the reason he was a suspect early on in the case.
"They charged me for assault on a female, but I never laid my hands on her," he said. "Of course it got thrown out of court because she was lying."
Herd said he's not a violent person; however, in the 90s, he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, communicating threats and stalking.
"I'm spending the rest of my life straightening up," he admitted. "I've done things and hung out with the wrong type of people and done things I'm not exactly proud of."
Authorities said he has been ruled out as a suspect in the case, and Herd believes the investigation into him kept authorities from finding the real killer.
"It wasted a lot of the man hours and taxpayer time, and it really offended me," he said. "It jeopardized my whole character and put my whole character in question. "
When asked if he had anything to do with Anderson's death he replied, "I didn't kill Barbara Anderson, but whoever killed Barbara Anderson, I'm sure they're out there, they need to come forth because this woman's family needs closure."
If you have any information that could help investigators, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-531-98451-800-531-9845. Your identity will be protected and you could get a reward of up to $5,000.
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