A North Carolina man has been arrested in the unsolved killing of an elderly couple found dead in their home nearly 30 years ago, when the suspect was just a teenager.
Eric Begley, 42, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Allene and Cleve McMahan, who were found dead in their Rock Hill Place home on December 11, 1989, the Asheville Police Department said Wednesday.
Cleve McMahan’s sister was delivering birthday presents to the McMahans’ home when she found the couple brutally beaten in an apparent break-in, according to reports at the time.
Allene McMahan was dead, but her husband was still clinging to life when his sister found the pair. He died 15 minutes after paramedics arrived, officials said.
Allene McMahan would have turned 76 the following day, while her husband would have been 80 at the end of the month. They had been married for 50 years.
Police said they died from blunt force trauma to the head during what appeared to be a violent home invasion, as the house was disturbed and there were signs of a struggle.
Cleve McMahan’s wallet was empty, but nothing else appeared to be stolen, and a small amount of blood found near the door was believed to have belonged to an assailant, The Asheville Citizen-Times reported.
About 28 years later, officials now believe they have cracked the cold case, naming Begley, who was just 14 years old at the time, as the prime suspect.
Begley was in prison in Sullivan County in Indiana for violating his parole after serving a 20-year sentence for unrelated crimes when he requested to speak to authorities in Asheville, a police spokeswoman told InsideEdition.com.
Detectives Kevin Taylor and Steve Coon, who were investigating the McMahan deaths, obtained information needed to charge Begley with the murders during a recent interview, police said.
Begley will be extradited to North Carolina, where investigators are continuing to probe the case, cops said.
“It is believed that Begley acted in cooperation with one or more offenders and therefore this case is under further investigation at this time,” police said in a statement.
A police spokeswoman declined to provide further information, citing the ongoing investigation.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Asheville Police Department 828-252-1110 or Crime Stoppers at 828-255-5050.