Detectives renew cold case investigation

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Staff Writer

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Police and family are offering a $10,000 reward in the five-year-old homicide case of a former Nash County commissioner found stabbed to death in his Rocky Mount home.

Hoy Jefferson Cobb Jr., known as Jeff to family and friends, was found dead on Nov. 11, 2014, in his residence on Jeffreys Court. The 75-year-old man died of multiple stab wounds to the chest, according to his death certificate.

Cobb died in an overkill of four dozen stab wounds, many an inch deep, on his chest, back and arms. Several of the 22 stab wounds on his chest penetrated his heart, lungs and liver. There were 24 stab wounds on his back and a few defensive wounds on both arms. He also had a right subdural hemorrhage, meaning he was either hit in the head or fell during the attack and hit his head, according to his autopsy report.

Several of the stab wounds had a central cross-shape cut surrounded by a 1-inch round purple-blue bruise, leading Medical Examiner Cathy Whitehurst to believe the injuries were caused by a Phillips head screwdriver.

The murder weapon is definitely “unconvintional,” said Lt. Don Mosely, head of the criminal investigation division of the Rocky Mount Police Department.

There is no indication robbery is a motive in Mr. Cobb’s death, said Sgt. Timothy Bunt, who heads the department’s Cold Case Unit.

While detectives are reviewing all of the city’s unsolved cases, they currently are concentrating on Cobb’s case and zeroing in on his killer. They are determinedly digging through files, re-examining evidence and re-interviewing witnesses.

To tighten the vice on the guilty party, police have reissued information on the $10,000 reward being offered for information in the case. The investigation has been ongoing since the beginning but now is undergoing a comprehensive review at the order of Chief George Robinson.

Cobb’s brother, W. Richard Cobb Sr., told the Telegram last week that he is impressed with the detectives and feels positive about the work currently being done in the case.

Folks who knew Jeff Cobb well knew him to be a ladies’ man, even into his elder years. His appreciation of the fairer sex may have led to his demise.

“There was an open package of condoms on the bedside table. A woman’s hair tie was found on the floor of the bedroom,” according to a medical examiner’s investigation report.

Cobb had an acute amount of alcohol in his system and his stomach was full of a red-tinged fluid with a sweet odor, according to the autopsy’s toxicology report.

One investigative theory is that Cobb picked up a woman at a local bar and grill who was in a relationship, and her jealous husband or boyfriend is the murderer. Alternatively, a woman Cobb brought home could have killed him.

“It is a real-life whodunnit,” one detective said.

Cobb last was known to be alive on the night of Nov. 7. His brother checked the home on Nov. 9 but did not find him.

Police performed a welfare check on Nov. 11 and discovered Cobb’s body. Rigor mortis had set in, according to the autopsy report.

Cobb’s body was in the garage office bathroom on his back, covered with a shower curtain, a blanket and two empty cardboard boxes.

W. Richard Cobb said his brother had a vibrant and outspoken personality.

“He knew so many people from so many walks of life. He could talk equally with the governor and the commoner,” he said.

A waitress at a restaurant Cobb frequented told the Telegram at the time of his death that Cobb could be a bit rough around the edges, but he had a good heart and was always fair with everyone, according to archived news reports.

Cobb was born and raised in Nash County, where his family owns a lot of property, including Cobb Corners, the shopping center home to Walmart and several other retail stores and restaurants in Rocky Mount.

A product of the local school system, Cobb attended East Carolina University before returning home to teach in Rocky Mount City Schools and serve as assistant principal at Rocky Mount Senior High.

Cobb eventually followed his family’s lead into real estate, renting a number of homes to couples and families in his own Benvenue neighborhood. He was a faithful member of Trinity Lutheran Church his entire life, serving many times on the church council.

During his long life, Cobb found many ways to give back to his community: He served on the Nash County Board of Education, the Nash County Board of Commissioners, the Board of Directors for Nash General Hospital and the Board of Trustees for the Rocky Mount Elks Lodge.

“Jeff did a lot of good for Nash County and Rocky Mount in the 1970s and ’80s as a politician,” his brother said.

Cobb loved historical reading, talking politics and business, music, travel, supporting the ECU Pirates and just being out and about. He lived and enjoyed life to the fullest and is missed by his family, church and many friends, according to his obituary.

“Jeff wasn’t perfect, but no one deserves such an end to life,” his brother said.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact CrimeStoppers at 252-977-1111 or crimestoppers@rockymountnc.gov. Text a tip to police at 274637 by beginning messages with RMPOL to direct the tip to the Rocky Mount Police Department and type up to 155 characters about the information.