Wilmington murder victim’s sister desperate for answers 37 years after brother’s death

Patricia Rongotes last saw her brother, Randy Hockabout, alive on Jan. 24, 1986.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:01 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Patricia Rongotes last saw her brother, Randy Hockabout, alive on Jan. 24, 1986. He was found beaten to death in Wilmington the next day. Rongotes says since then, her life has not been the same.

“If I was to call him and say, ‘Hey, I need such and such,’ he’d come right over and help me and now I don’t have that. Out of all my family, there is nobody that I was close to like I am him,” Rongotes said.

Hockabout’s body and car were found at what was Optimist Park along South Front Street. To this day, the case remains unsolved. No arrests have been made and no suspects have been named.

“It’s very frustrating not knowing what happened to him because I really, really have missed him,” Rongotes said. “I know we’re all gonna die someday, but nobody [has] to die the way he did.”

The Wilmington Police Department says the investigation is ongoing. Police have previously told WECT the case was reviewed in 2018. The department also said evidence was sent for testing in 2006 but there was not enough DNA to create a full profile. A spokesperson said Tuesday that new leads will be reviewed as they become available.

Rongotes says she had not heard from anyone with the department in three years until an officer called her Tuesday afternoon, but did not have any new information about the case. Rongotes wonders if she can do more to find answers.

“I don’t know if I need to call the Attorney General or the Governor or who, but there is going be some letters going out to some people,” she said. “Might even be some representative, senators, or somebody.”

Rongotes says she is desperate to discover what happened to her brother and does not plan to stop her quest for information.

“I need closure. I need peace of mind. I don’t want to have to continue to live a mile down the road and know my brother was laying out here in the cold and the rain beaten to death,” she said.

Police believe Hockabout may have been targeted because he was gay, and told WECT in 2020 that any possible suspects might no longer be alive.