WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - An organization that helps solve crimes by offering reward money is in need of money. Crime Stoppers of New Hanover County is running low on cash.
“We need help,” said Linda Thompson, chairperson person of the organization’s board.
Thompson, who is also the public affairs officer for the Wilmington Police Department, said Crime Stoppers has helped solve many crimes over the past three decades, but that success has depleted the cash.
“It’s helped us to solve a lot of crimes and people do use it. People do call Crime Stoppers. We do pay out the rewards. And so, you know, the more money you pay out, the more money you’re going to need and we’re just at a time now where our funds are dwindling, and we need the public’s help,” Thompson said.
About $10,000 is all that’s left of reward money for Crime Stoppers, according to Thompson.
Generally, Crime Stoppers offers up to $5,000, depending on the value of the information provided and whether the tip leads to an arrest.
“So an individual may get $500, they may get $1,000. In our last case where we were able to make an arrest of a homicide suspect, we did offer $5,000 and we paid it," she explained.
That homicide suspect was Michael Jermaine Mitchell. A tip to Crime Stoppers led to his arrest in May. Mitchell is accused of killing Willie Sellers Jr. in April.
Thompson says they knew who the suspected killer was they just couldn’t find him.
“We were just looking for him. We had the U.S. Marshals looking. We had a number of entities out looking. We were getting tips, but we did not know where that individual was. And so the information we got led us directly to the place where that person was,” Thompson said.
That has not happened so far in another murder case. Rueben Irvin’s murder is one of several unsolved murders in the Wilmington area. Irving was killed on July 30, 2018 in Wilmington. Thompson says investigators believe someone is sitting on information that could get them some cash.
“We believe some friends and other folks who were close to him know what happened. We believe they have information. We believe they know the individual that killed him," Thompson said.
Thompson says all tips are strictly confidential.
“We meet the individuals — kind of inconspicuously — kind of secret squirrel-like. We pay them cash, no questions are asked. Anonymity is our top priority,” Thompson said.
In the 30 years Crime Stoppers has been around in New Hanover County, Thompson says there’s never been a glitch. All tips have remained confidential.
Thompson believes much of the success of the Crime Stoppers program is that criminals often talk about their crimes. The hope is that the person hearing about the crime will come forward.
“I think the thing about people who commit crimes—and it always puzzled me is they’ve got to tell somebody. They’ve got tell somebody what they’ve done and I don’t know if it helps to cleanse their conscience or to make them feel good or they even feel guilty, but typically when people commit crimes, they’re going to tell somebody.”
To text a tip, send a message to CRIMES (274637). Begin your text with TIP708. You cal also call 1-800-531-9845.
If you would like to donate to Crime Stoppers, you can go to Paypal. You can also call Linda Thompson at 910-341-4608.