Search warrants reveal new details in Landreth murder investigation

Suspect accused of trying to sell guns and a vehicle he stole from victim
Updated: Mar. 30, 2021 at 1:42 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - WECT has obtained six search warrants returned in the investigation into the murder of Jacqueline Landreth. The Bladen County woman was last seen by her family on Feb. 8, and later reported missing. The warrants help explain how her body was found, and how detectives gathered the evidence needed to make three arrests.

Timothy Cain and Jamaal Green are facing murder and armed robbery charges connected to Landreth’s death. Authorities say they stole Landreth’s truck, cell phone, and cash at gunpoint. Amanda Williamson is also facing charges “for transporting [the suspects] to a place of safety and for giving them a place to store evidence,” according to the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office.

Finding the body

On Feb. 24, the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by Bladen County Sheriff’s Detective M. Hester, requesting assistance on a missing person’s case. The Bladen County Sheriff’s Office had gotten a tip that there could be a body off of Klondyke Road in Columbus County. Deputies from both agencies responded to search a wooded area nearby.

When Detective P.D. Rockenbach was leaving the area to return to the office, he wrote in the search warrant that he “noticed a dirt road that had some trash that appeared to be a box spring in the middle of a dirt road. I pulled off to look around the trash area and in the ditches on this dirt road...and noticed what appeared to be a black shoe sticking out of the water in the ditch.”

Upon closer inspection, Det. Rockenbach realized it was a body, later identified as Jacqueline Landreth. Search warrants indicate she’d been shot. Landreth had last been seen driving a white 2000s model GMC Sierra.

During the investigation, the detective “received an anonymous tip that the white GMC Sierra vehicle belonging to the victim in this case was parked in front of a residence on Bird Cage Estates Drive in Chadbourn,” according to warrants. Sheriff’s officials say they got permission to search the property and located Landreth’s vehicle. They found blood and hair inside, a bloody cigarette butt, coveralls, a metal file, vice grips, a can of butane, a catalytic converter and a prybar.

Truck for sale

Detectives also spoke to a man who told them Timothy Cain tried to sell him Landreth’s vehicle. The caller reported that Cain took him to Bird Cage Estates to look at a pickup truck for sale on Feb. 22.

According to the search warrant, the prospective buyer “stated that he recognized the truck was the same truck that belonged to Ms. Jacqueline Landreth and stated that he asked Mr. Timothy Cain about it belonging to the missing girl from Bladen County. [Prosective buyer] stated that Mr. Cain then stated ‘never-mind’ and took him back to his residence in Clarkton.”

Another anonymous caller told detectives he’d also seen the white truck. He added that he knew Timothy Cain and had gone to his residence “to look at weapons Mr. Cain had for sale in his vehicle,” warrants state.

“This individual stated that Mr. Cain was in possession of an AK-47 and several handguns. This individual stated that all of these weapons were in the back of his black Hyundai Equus. The individual stated that Mr. Cain also told him that he was trying to get rid of a truck but had no title for the same. This individual stated that he was not interested in the weapons or the truck because he was not comfortable with Mr. Cain.”

Under arrest

Phone records indicate Cain made contact with Landreth on the last day she was in touch with her family, and his house is within four miles of where her body was found.

On February 26, Det. Rockenback arrested Cain and took him to the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office for an interview. “Mr. Cain was read his Miranda Warning Rights and informed me that he was willing to talk and waived to having a lawyer present,” the search warrant reads. “Mr. Cain stated that he had used and drove his Hyundai car during and after the homicide of Ms. Jacqueline Landreth. Mr. Cain stated that he and his co-conspiritor, Jamaal Green, had put several weapons from the victim’s truck into his car and used his vehicle to drive away from the scene of the crime.”

Detectives used this information to get a search warrant for Cain’s car, a black Hyundai Equus. Authorities seized ammunition, receipts, an NC registration plate, and 3 DNA swabs from that vehicle. They also seized brown boots and black jeans from Cain’s house, and got permission from Amanda Williamson to search her house in Cerro Gordo. Cain was with Williamson at the time of his arrest.

“Detective Lt. B. Williamson advised that Ms. Williamson allowed him to take photos of a bedroom where Timothy Cain had clothes in a trash bag and several other bags. Several items of clothing containing what appeared to be blood were located inside of this residence,” court documents read.

Weapons seized

Detectives say Mr. Cain told them he had taken and AK-47 and other handguns from Jacqueline Landreth, and given the weapons to someone else to hold for him.

On Feb. 25, Mr. Cain’s cellphone was located abandoned on the side of the James B White Hwy North in Whiteville. Detectives say there were pictures of firearms on the cell phone, “believed to be the firearms taken from the victim’s vehicle after the homicide occurred.”

Detectives later searched a house in Bird Cage Estates in Chadbourn, and seized ammunition and guns, including an AK-47.

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