Former North Carolina police chief charged with 1972 murder

ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) -- A former chief of police in the Beaufort County town of Belhaven and Cape Carteret in Carteret County is now accused of killing a fellow Marine in 1972.

Hayden, age 57, was charged by the Onslow County Sheriff's Office. Police say Hayden's ex-wife, 58-year-old Vickey Miller Hayden Babbitt, will be arrested later today. Officials say Babbitt was married to the victim at the time of the murder.

Sheriff Ed Brown tells WITN News when the victim, 27-year-old Bill Miller, came back from Marine Corps training in 1972, he found his wife and Hayden living together in Miller's house in Onslow County. Brown says the two moved out of Miller's home.

The sheriff says Babbitt later coaxed her husband to a wooded area on Western Boulevard so Hayden could ambush him. Brown says Hayden then shot Miller in the head and back with a M-16 rifle. The sheriff says Hayden and Babbitt were married three months later and that Hayden has always been a suspect in the murder.

Until March, Hayden was the police chief in the Beaufort County town of Belhaven. Before that, he was a police chief in Cape Carteret.

Hayden now lives with his family on Portside Lane in Belhaven, where he was taken into custody Monday night by representatives from the Beaufort and Onslow County Sheriff's Offices, NCIS, US Marshals and the SBI.

He was taken to Onslow County, charged and locked up. Hayden was committed to the Onslow County Jail just one week shy of the date of September 16, 1972, the date he and Babbitt are accused of killing Vickey’s husband on Western Boulevard in Jacksonville. Officials note the murder occurred on Western Boulevard back before Western Boulevard was a part of the City of Jacksonville.

Babbitt is expected to be arrested at her home in Oregon today.

Earlier this year, in March, George Hayden was fired from the Belhaven Police Department in an unrelated matter, along with a police lieutenant. The two are appealing their dismissal and are taking their case to court. Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal told WITN News he had no comment on the former chief's arrest. The mayor said Hayden is gone from Belhaven and that's history now.

Onslow County has a press conference scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m.

"Regardless of the case type or age of a case, interaction, assistance, and teamwork of those in the judicial system is necessary," said Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown.

"I wish to express many thanks to the District Attorney’s Office, and all Agencies and their Agents for everything they did to bring this case thus far. Additional teamwork will be required, however, to bring this case to a resolved disposition. Family, friends, and citizens may consider a case cold, forgotten, or even dismissed, but as for law enforcement and those responsible for justice a case may be cold and old, but never forgotten or dismissed," said Sheriff Brown. "Much credit for new life being breathed into this case goes to the Jacksonville Daily News Reporter, Lindell Kay. It was two separate cold case articles Mr. Kay did in the Jacksonville Daily News that inspired a key witness to come to the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office with specific evidence that lead to the solving of William “Bill” Miller’s murder that occurred on September 16, 1972. Mr. Kay’s articles were in the Sunday, August 10th, and August 17th, 2008, publication of the Jacksonville Daily News."

(Information provided by WITN-TV.)

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