On Aug. 3, 2005, Cobey Wade Lakemper allegedly began a violent multi-state crime spree that would ultimately end the lives of three people. Five years later, he is still in the Newton County Detention Center and has yet to face trial on any of the charges against him.
Lakemper, 33, of Sedalia, Mo., reportedly began his rampage at the Clarion Hotel in Kansas City, Mo. According to court records, Lakemper, who registered under his own name, confronted the clerk about jewelry missing from his room. He reportedly became angry and began shouting profanities at her before pulling a gun from his waistband, pointing it the clerk and demanding money. Reports indicate he was able to escape with $201. It is believed he was on the run from a warrant issued on July 21 for his arrest after he missed several meetings with his parole officers in Missouri.
On Aug. 7, 2005, the bodies of William Dennis Covington, 72, and his wife Joyce, 65, were found shot to death inside their North Carolina home. Authorities in Stokes County, N.C., have said that evidence collected pointed to Lakemper — who reportedly has relatives in North Carolina — as the triggerman. It is believed that Lakemper was robbing the couple when the shooting took place.
Eleven days later, Lakemper was registered at the Comfort Inn on Ga. Highway 142 where then 40-year-old Wendy Cartledge-Carter had been a clerk for four years. She would celebrate her 41st birthday calling for help after being shot. She identified her shooter as Cobey Lakemper.
In a 911 tape heard in court, Cartledge-Carter is heard on the phone with the 911 operator screaming, "Please help me, please!" and "he had a black gun, he shot me twice, I’m dying! Please, I’m dying on my birthday!"
A statement made by Cartledge-Carter prior to her death, indicated that she remembered Lakemper because she and another clerk had a discussion when they saw him about how handsome they thought he was.
She said that she had shared a cigarette with him outside that evening when he came downstairs before heading back inside the hotel. On the way back inside he allegedly struck her in the back of the head with something hard. She told authorities that she ran into an office and closed the door, attempting to keep him out, but he reportedly reached inside and shot her, amidst her pleas for her life. She died on Nov. 4, 2005.
When detectives entered Lakemper’s room, they found a note that said, "I heard you guys coming, I had to leave." It was reportedly signed "Cobey."
He was arrested in a bar in Jackson, Tenn., on Aug. 24, 2005, after someone recognized him from the America’s Most Wanted website. The gun used in Cartledge-Carter’s shooting was recovered when members of the U.S. Marshal’s Service arrested him without incident.
He was transported to Stokes County, N.C., where the Covington’s were killed and stayed there until November 2005 when he was indicted and the District Attorney there announced they would seek the death penalty against him.
On Dec. 4, 2006, he was booked into the Newton County Detention Center and charged with felony murder, armed robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, aggravated battery and possession of arms by a convicted felon. The District Attorney is seeking the death penalty in the case.
Since being brought to Newton County, he has attempted to have Superior Court Judge Samuel Ozburn removed from the case because of a believed "so-what" attitude regarding motions filed by the defense.
He has also filed at least two lawsuits in Newton County against the jail staff for issues of "prisoner civil rights," one in 2007, the other in 2008. He has also filed at least one civil lawsuit against the state regarding a brief move from the Newton County Jail to the jail in neighboring Putnam County.
The argument was that the move was retaliatory after Lakemper complained about treatment in Newton County; they sent him to a jail with a large population of black inmates, which was dangerous for Lakemper, who has Ku Klux Klan tattoos.
According to Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown, "It is the long-standing policy of the Newton County Sheriff’s Office not to comment on detainees and legal matters involving detainees."
However, at the current cost of $65 a day to pay for an inmate, Lakemper has cost the county roughly $87,100 since his incarceration began.
Interim District Attorney Layla Zon declined to answer questions regarding the case because of a gag order that went into effect in 2007 that prohibits public statements.
Though largely quiet throughout the ordeal, Cartledge-Carter’s mother Betty Cartledge, said Thursday morning that she couldn’t believe things have taken so long.
"It makes it hard to move on," she said. "I want closure on this. I want it over with. We haven’t got long here on this earth and I want something done to him [Lakemper] before I’m gone."
She called her daughter the "backbone of our family" and said that she was a kind woman and a mother to three boys, who had been known to let people stay at the hotel when they had no money and no where else to go.
"Cobey Lakemper didn’t just kill our daughter," she said, her voice choked with emotion. "He destroyed our whole family."
Her father William said that he keeps an electric candle lit in his window at all times for his daughter.
"When people ask me why it’s there, I tell them it’s there for my Wendy," he said, beginning to cry. "I’ll turn it off when justice is served."