Father murdered, stepmom's 911 call suggests motive

Suspect had "troubled history" with father

Motive for murder, 911 call holds clues

GREENVILLE - Investigators released a 911 conversation between a murder suspect's stepmother and police this week, revealing why she said her son pulled the trigger.

Greenville Police arrested Benjamin Shields IV, 29, in the shooting death of his father, Benjamin Shields III, 59. The incident happened Oct. 17 on Coleman Drive.

The victim's wife, Gwendolyn Dickens Shields, told police her stepson had a history of problems with Shields III.

"We had allowed him to come back home, trying to help him get back on his feet," Gwendolyn told police as she drove to the crime scene from work. "And he had been doing well. I don't know what happened today."

As Shields remained on the line with police, she was unaware her husband was dead. Officers on recorded radio traffic said the victim's daughter found the body in their home's garage and could hardly speak.

"We have a hysterical female outside," an officer said over the radio. "The shooter has left the road. But she's hysterical and hasn't given us anything else."

According to investigators from the Major Crimes Unit, Benjamin Shields IV fled the scene and turned himself in an hour later.

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A man was arrested Wednesday for allegedly shooting his father to death at the victim's home, police said. On Thursday, that man had his first court appearance.

Benjamin Shields IV, 29, made his first appearance this morning in the murder investigation of his father.  At the hearing, family members sat in the courtroom as the judge explained the charges; family member had no comment on the incident.  Bond was set for Shields IV at one million dollars.  

The suspect surrendered to officers shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday, said Sgt. Joe Friday, Jr., of the Greenville Police Department. He was charged in the murder of his father, 59-year-old Benjamin Shields III. 

The victim was found dead inside his home on 2140 Coleman Drive in Greenville Wednesday evening, Sgt. Friday said. It appeared that he died of gunshot wounds. 

"We do believe this is an isolated incident," Sgt. Friday said. "We don't believe the community has anything to be afraid of at this time."

Neighbors said the victim lived at the home with his wife and other family members.

"Everybody could say the man was a very pleasant individual," neighbor Mark Renfrow said. "I know it's a large family. The family always had large gatherings at holidays."

But it was a holiday gathering two years ago when Renfrow said he first noticed trouble. On Thanksgiving in 2010, he said heard gunshots from the victim's home.

Police were interviewing family members and neighbors to determine a motive for the murder, Sgt. Friday said.

Benjamin Shields IV was charged with one open count of murder. He was being held at the Pitt County Detention Center without bond. His first court appearance was scheduled for Thursday.

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