COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The mother of the first suspect charged in the “cold-blooded” murder of Trooper Kevin Conner last month tipped off investigators about the name of the second suspect, an unsealed search warrant revealed on Wednesday.
Raheem Davis, 20, and Chauncy Askew, 18, are each charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 17 killing of Conner. His murder stunned the community, including members of law enforcement who served alongside the beloved trooper.
The search warrant, filed for information on Askew’s phone, provides new details about the case, including that he was also a suspect in another homicide.
Shortly after midnight on Oct. 17, Conner pulled over a speeding truck on Highway 701 near Sellers Town Road in Columbus County for what appeared to be a routine traffic stop. Instead, Conner was shot twice as he approached the vehicle.
The trooper was taken to the hospital, but died as a result of his injuries.
Using Conner’s dashboard camera footage, authorities were able to determine the suspects’ vehicle, which initiated a massive manhunt, ultimately leading to the arrest of Davis several hours later. While being pursued by law enforcement, Davis crashed the truck on railroad tracks near Fair Bluff and led officers on a foot chase before being detained.
In an interview after his arrest, Davis said he only ran because “he had been drinking and did not have a license,” the warrant states.
A search of the truck’s tag revealed it belonged to a Chadbourn produce company, the owner of which told investigators he was unaware it had been stolen, according to the warrant. While reviewing the business’ surveillance footage from Oct. 13, investigators saw an unknown man walk through the unlocked gate, which had been opened by employees, shortly after 4 a.m., and take the truck.
“The owner advised keys are left in the vehicles for employees to use for work purposes,” the warrant states.
A Chadbourn police officer told investigators he had run the vehicle’s tag around 7 p.m. on Oct. 16 after seeing it near the Funny Mart in Chadbourn. A review of the store’s surveillance video showed a man wearing jeans and a striped shirt purchase a Bud Ice from the store before getting into the truck and leaving. Investigators later confirmed this to be Davis, according to the document.
Though the warrant indicates Davis’ mother first mentioned Askew’s name on Oct. 18, the document more specifically describes a conversation an investigator had with her on Oct. 19.
In that conversation, Davis’ mother said she had received a Facebook message from a woman that included a phone number for her to call.
The warrant states:
While no explanation is provided in the document, authorities reviewed a Loris, South Carolina convenience store’s surveillance footage Oct. 19, which showed the stolen truck pull into a pump at around 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 16.
A man matching Davis’ description got out of the passenger side of the vehicle and entered the store, while another man, apparently Askew, got out of the driver’s side of the truck and pumped gas, the document indicates. The video then shows that around 11:45 p.m. – minutes before the deadly shooting – the men get back into the truck on their respective sides and head north on Business 701 towards Tabor City.
A detective with the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office who reviewed the video confirmed the driver was Askew, according to the document.
“(The detective) said he has past dealings with Askew and is familiar with him,” the warrant states.
After an “extensive manhunt,” Askew was arrested in Loris, SC in the early morning hours of Oct. 23. The warrant indicates authorities may have used a controversial cell phone tracking device in their search.
Officials have declined to identify which suspect allegedly pulled the trigger in Conner’s murder, however, District Attorney Jon David has announced his office intends to seek the death penalty against Askew. David, who previously called Conner’s killing “cold-blooded first-degree murder,” has not announced if he pursue the same against Davis.
Askew was a suspect in a 2016 homicide in Columbus County, according to the warrant, but no additional details are provided.