Murder of UNCW student shocks campus
Published: Thursday, June 3, 2004
Updated: Monday, November 8, 2010 09:11
The last day of classes, Wednesday, May 5, marked the murder of UNCW sophomore Jessica Lee Faulkner. Faulkner, 18, was found dead in the third-floor room of Curtis Timothy Dixon in Cornerstone Hall.
Faulkner, from Cary, had been struck on the head with a blunt object and strangled, according to an article in the Star News. Dixon, a 21-year-old freshman from Charlotte, was taken into custody within 10 minutes of the UNCW Campus Police Department's notification. Later that afternoon, the UNCW Police received help from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the New Hanover County Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney's Office to officially charge Dixon with first-degree murder, according to a press release issued by the campus police.
The next day, additional charges of first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense and first-degree kidnapping were filed against Dixon.
In an article in the Star News, John Faulkner was reported to have called the New Hanover 911 Center on Wednesday to check on his daughter after being unable to contact her. He informed the dispatcher that he had received a call at his home in Cary "from one of her classmates that says he's murdered her." Faulkner was unaware that his daughter's body had already been found in Cornerstone Hall. When he had called UNCW police earlier, they had told him they were looking for a suspect. Faulkner replied that he did not care about the suspect, "I want to know the status of my daughter." He had called campus police twice, but was displeased with their response time.
Faulkner went on to say that a boy had been stalking his daughter around for quite a long time, but he thought that "had gone by the wayside." He knew that the young man's first name was Curtis. "He's a fellow student. He basically wanted to date my daughter. She refused to date him. He basically called this morning and said he murdered her," Faulkner said to the 911 dispatcher, according to the Star News.
Faulkner's funeral was on May 11.
The incident seemed out of character for Dixon, according to Rich Haag, the father of Michael Haag, a friend that Dixon phoned before he was arrested.
"This is clearly a person we value and love. He is bright, creative, funny and gifted, and he has been a very close part of the family for six years," Haag said. Family members could not provide an explanation for Dixon's behavior. "I just know he was a person we love and trusted. We're heartbroken for Curtis and heartbroken for the family of Jessica. The pain has been tremendous," the Star News article stated.
Dixon enrolled in UNCW last fall.
This tragic incident is shocking in more ways than one. According to a WECT 6 news report by Aaron Saykin, the Ku Klux Klan hotline used Faulkner's murder as a recruiting tool.
"Ladies and gentlemen, another young white woman has been raped and murdered," the recording says. The recording refers to Dixon as a "savage" and uses racial slurs. The hotline is registered to a KKK political organization from Henderson.
"Add to that horrible resume the fact that they want to take the blood of this young woman and exploit it for political purposes, and I predict it will backfire," said Mike Adams, UNCW sociology expert.
This tragedy has affected the UNCW campus on many fronts. Glen Titus, campus minister of Campus Christian Fellowship, reacted to the news of the murder.
"My first reaction was [the realization] that my position as campus minister is not all fun and games. There's realism to what I'm doing here, in my role as how God uses me. I spent 30 minutes down at the beach praying, trying to get a handle on it," he said. "A lot of college students seem to think they are invincible, that they have 20, 30 or 70 more years to be prosperous; they claim self-sufficiency, when in reality, something like this happens. Some people may have a question of fairness. This world is sinful and has been unfair since the Garden of Eden. It is my full belief that we have to put our faith in Jesus Christ because of that."
Dixon is being held without bond while prosecutors are trying to decide if they will try this as a death penalty case.