Does an Incurious Press Let Important Details in Criminal Cases Remain Cloaked in Secrecy?

Does an Incurious Press Let Important Details in Criminal Cases Remain Cloaked in Secrecy?

By Doug Wyllie

Walter Woodrow Locklear and Lloyd Kinston Locklear Jr were both out on bond for unresolved criminal cases at the time of their most recent—totally unrelated—arrests. In such cases, a curious person might want to ascertain the “who, what, and how” of events leading up to their current incarceration. But this person’s curiosity would be stymied by a system that seems to intentionally keep these details as closely held secrets.

In early January 2018, the bodies of two people were discovered in separate but nearby locations in a relatively remote area of North Carolina between the City of Laurinburg and its small municipal airport to the east of town.

According to WBTW-TV News, one victim—later identified as 22-year old Lyn Ardell Bullard was found in a puddle of blood near a pond. The other victim—later identified as nine-year-old Dakota Bullard—was found several hours later (and four miles away) in a pickup truck that had been intentionally set on fire.

According to WYFF-TV News, investigators soon learned that the man and the boy had been hunting together in the small hours of the morning and at some point encountered a 27-year-old man named Walter Woodrow Locklear.

According to WPDE-TV News, officials declined to comment on any relationship between the three individuals, but a Bullard family member said that the older of the two victims (Lyn) and Walter Locklear were “close friends.”

The Bullard and Locklear families have reportedly known each other since the 1970s—apparently they weren’t all that “close” after all.

It Doesn’t Take Long

It didn’t take long for a small team of sleuths from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office to conclude that Locklear was the prime suspect in the deaths of Lyn and Dakota Bullard.

It didn’t take long for police to arrest Locklear and charge him with two counts of first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and burning of personal property.

It didn’t take long for Locklear to walk free on bond while awaiting trial.

It didn’t take long for Locklear to be arrested again on entirely new charges.

According to WBTW-TV News, Locklear—out on bond pending the trial phase of the double-murder case from 2018—was arrested during a traffic stop in August of this year. Locklear was charged with multiple felonies, including (but not limited to) carrying a concealed weapon, forgery, obtaining property by false pretense, possession of marijuana paraphernalia, and possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana.

Locklear is presently being held without bond at the local criminal detention center. We’ll see how long it takes for him to be freely wandering around rural North Carolina—or worse, points elsewhere and unknown.

Locklears of Robeson County

Nearly all of the research we do for our Wall of Shame entries is within the “open source” arena—we don’t have any special access to information not immediately available to a sufficiently motivated curious person with a little time on their hands.

We venture deep into the vast and far corners of the Internet in search of little details like “who, what, and how” of events like those involving the abovementioned Walter Woodrow Locklear.

So when we began looking into search terms like “Locklear” and “Robeson County” and “charged” and “murder” we found—by random happenstance—the curious case of Lloyd Kinston Locklear Jr.

According to a variety of press reports, this particular individual had been charged with felony conspiracy, first-degree burglary, robbery with a dangerous weapon, first-degree murder, and other offenses in connection with the June 2022 shooting death of Alexander Locklear (yes, yet another Locklear of Robson County).

He had—at some point after his arrest and arraignment—been released on bond.

Of course he had.

Then, in early January of this year, an investigator seeking a fugitive on an outstanding warrant initiated a traffic stop of a vehicle in which they believed their suspect might be present. During that stop, one of the vehicle passengers—you guessed it, none other than Lloyd Kinston Locklear Jr.—fought with officers, and at one point pointed a gun at them.

At least one officer fired on Lloyd Jr., who then fled on foot into the woods beside the interstate highway. Locklear was soon apprehended and the gun he had brandished was recovered at the scene. He is now charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm.

Sidebar, Exhibit A: A truly curious person looking at the search results for “Locklear” and “Robeson County” will also discover that at the time of this writing, 20-year-old Kinston Don Locklear is wanted on charges of two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, first-degree burglary, four counts of second-degree kidnapping, felony conspiracy, and misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon.

Sidebar, Exhibit B: That same curious person will also quickly learn that not even one month ago, 78-year-old Sturgeon Locklear was arrested—also in Robeson County—and charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of 55-year-old Phillip Locklear.

You really can’t make this stuff up.

Details Cloaked in Secrecy

In cases such as Walter Woodrow Locklear and Lloyd Kinston Locklear Jr.,—both of whom were out on bond for unresolved criminal cases at the time of their most recent arrests—a curious person might want to find out things such as:

  • “What is the name of the judge who set the bond amount?”
  • “What Bond agency Locklear employed to secure his freedom?”
  • “What (if any) were the conditions of Locklear’s bond?”

But this person’s curiosity would be stymied by a system that seems to intentionally keep such details as closely held secrets. We at NPA had to jump through some fairly fiery hoops to discover that in Superior Court Case# 20CRS052957, the Honorable Angelica McIntyre allowed the Palmetto Surety Corporation to post a cumulative bond amount of $250,000 for Lloyd Kinston Locklear Jr.’s [temporary] freedom.

We still haven’t been able to ascertain the answers to those same questions in regard to Walter Woodrow Locklear.

The only logical follow-up question thereafter must be:

  • “Why are these simple facts so difficult to discover?”

One obvious—and to a certain extent, completely justified—answer is that judges other court officials must be protected from retribution by nefarious individuals who are ensnared somehow in the criminal justice system. We need look no further than unhinged threats made against Supreme Court Justices to appreciate the very real dangers potentially lurking for jurists at every level of the criminal justice system.

The less-than-obvious—and to a certain extent, totally unjustified—answer is that local news reporting is slowly dying the death that national news reporting suffered a few short years ago.

The simultaneous emergence of social media services “new media” websites that present so-called news in the form of “listicles” and “snapshots” and “explainers” has all but destroyed both the supply of and demand for real, actual, fact-based news reporting at the national level.

It’s now and undisputed fact that once-proud national broadcast news organizations—especially the big three networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC, but also historically great print pubs like the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and Time—are hollow shells of their former selves.

Within their comfortably air conditioned and lavishly furnished studios and newsrooms, these national news people have become soft, lazy, and incurious. It’s now all about lunch at the Occidental before hair and makeup and a quick glance at the rundown.

That gritty, go-get-it news reporting by default left to the local guys and gals who still walked into courthouses and police stations and got the facts directly from the source. For a while, those intrepid “small time” news people held their own, and diligently did what they’d done practically since Johannes Gutenberg figured out how to mass-produce written documents for widespread distribution and dissemination.

Perhaps these local reporters are simply overworked and underappreciated and as a consequence little details like “who, what, and how” fall through the cracks. Perhaps it’s worse than that… perhaps these people have also become incurious.

It Usually Lasts Forever

The question of whether or not there is any direct family relation between any of the Locklears discussed here—specifically, Alexander, Kinston, Lloyd, Sturgeon, and/or Walter—is rendered irrelevant when placed in context with the impact each individual has had on their community. What is relevant is the permanence of their [alleged] actions.

What is also relevant is the fact that in the absence of a doggedly determined and compulsively curious news media, unearthing details of how these individuals came to be freely wandering around rural North Carolina—despite already facing serious felony charges—has become the work of ordinary citizens.