The investigators have cleared out, the crime scene tape has vanished, but the fear remained. Days after deputies discovered 56-year-old Linda Hulsmann's body inside her Jacksonville home, the neighborhood was muddled with curiosity and fear.
"I mean, who wouldn't be afraid," said one neighbor who wanted to remain anonymous. "Because of his friends that used to hang out."
That neighbor was referencing Nickey Yates' friends. This week, Yates was charged with killing his neighbor three doors down. A woman, who the victim's friends said, Yates would help by doing odd jobs around the house. Hulsmann's friends also mentioned the victim said she felt threatened by Yates after he learned she had prescription narcotics. Friends said Yates wanted the victim's pills.
"It is drug related, yes," confirmed Onslow County Sheriff's Colonel, Chuck Carnes.
Neighbors told NewsChannel 12 they believe the crime is gang related as well-- another reason neighbors who did share their thoughts with is said they wanted to stay anonymous. Yates is charged with conspiracy among other things, which neighbors said could mean other people not under arrest could be involved.
Residents said years ago, the neighborhood off Wolf Swamp Road was one where you could leave doors unlocked and kids played together in the front yards. But over the years, they said the neighborhood has changed, as did Nickey Yates.
"He was a really sweet, gentle, quiet type child," said one neighbor. "The last three years or so he just grew up and went his own way."
Investigators continued interviewing potential witnesses Tuesday. The Sheriff's Department announced Thursday afternoon it would hold a news conference with updated information about he investigation Friday morning.