Mooresville police are investigating whether a June 9 home invasion and fatal shooting was committed by Patrick Tracy Burris, the habitual felon blamed for five killings in Cherokee County, S.C.
Matthew Ryan Stewart, 31, was shot and killed in his bed just after midnight. His wife, Angela Stewart, was shot and wounded in the arm. Their children were at home but weren't hurt.
The killing in the Gabriel Estates neighborhood stunned the quiet Iredell County town and has stumped investigators, The Charlotte Observer reported.
The police don't have a description of the man, other than that he was tall. Burris, who was shot and killed by Gaston County Police Monday, was 6 feet 8 inches tall.
"We don't have anything concrete," Mooresville police Chief Carl Robbins said. "Our guys and the SBI are speaking with investigators down there to see if there are any links."
Robbins said the case is further complicated by not having a better description of the killer and the killer's car, if there was one. Burris, who was released from prison April 29, drove a champagne-colored Ford Explorer.
Like the Cherokee killings, the Mooresville murder involved a man bursting into a home and an apparently random shooting. It happened just 45 minutes from where Burris was reportedly living.
Ballistics are being compared with results from the Cherokee slayings. But Robbins cautioned that if the tests don't match, that doesn't necessarily rule out Burris.
The Cleveland County Sheriff's Office said Burris sold firearms to two people in their county. The sheriff's office says the guns may have been stolen and is using a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms database in an attempt to find the owners.
"That's something we'll look into," Robbins said about the ballistics tests. "But if it's not that, it won't stop us dead in our tracks."
Burris killed five people in Cherokee County in six days, police say. They aren't sure why he killed.
Some have speculated that Burris killed for drug money because he spent his last three days taking drugs, according to a brother and sister from Gaston County with whom he spent much of his final days.
But investigators aren't certain he killed for money. They said he left cash and other valuables at all of the crime scenes.
Robbins said he doesn't believe anything was taken from the Stewarts' home.
Burris, a career criminal who had been arrested 30 times in North Carolina alone, was released from the Lincoln Correctional Center in April. He moved into a mobile home park in Vale, N.C., in late May and left, according to neighbors, in mid-June.
On June 27, police say, Burris shot and killed peach grower Kline Cash, 63, then killed four others over the next five days. Burris was killed early Monday at an abandoned house near Dallas by police responding to a burglary call.