Ocean Isle Beach man slain in Anson County

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By Sam Hickman

 Anson County investigators say an Ocean Isle Beach man whose body was found outside his vehicle on the side of a road last week was the victim of foul play.

They also said they believe the man, who was headed from the North Carolina coast to Johnson City, Tenn., had picked up a passenger along the way.

Anson County deputies were called Wednesday night, Nov. 13, to investigate a 2000 silver Ford Focus in the ditch along N.C. 742, about five miles north of Wadesboro.

On Thursday, Nov. 14, the man was identified as 42-year-old Keith Jerome Whisnant of Ocean Isle Beach, who suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the chest.

Investigators believe Whisnant picked up his passenger between a Burger King restaurant in Wadesboro and where N.C. 742 branches off from U.S. 52 North. Surveillance footage shows Whisnant at the Burger King by himself about 8 p.m., according to sheriff’s office reports.

Anson County Sheriff Tommy Allen said investigators believe the killing occurred about 8:30 p.m.

“One passing motorist told investigators he saw what appeared to be two people struggling in the front seat of the vehicle as it sat in the ditch,” Allen said.

Investigators did not find anyone else near the vehicle when they arrived. Allen said they think another passing motorist picked up Whisnant’s passenger.

Investigators believe a number of vehicles passed Whisnant’s car, which had OIB on the front tag, while it was in the ditch.

The also think the driver of a white mid-size car stopped at the scene, believing it was a traffic accident, and may have talked with Whisnant’s killer. Allen said they want to find and talk with this person as a possible witness.

No one has been identified as a possible suspect, the sheriff said.

Seth Roberts, one of Whisnant’s co-workers at Carolina Creations Landscaping Inc., said Whisnant was a hard worker with a great attitude.

“He was always there on time, always early,” he said. “He was one of those guys you didn’t have to worry about. You knew he was doing his job.”

Whisnant worked for Roberts upon joining Carolina Creations, but eventually became a foreman himself.

“He was a guy that was trying to do the right things for his family,” Roberts said. “It’s shocking. I realized last Friday on my way to work, Keith wasn’t coming in. It’s tough.”

Jon Thrift, general manager of Carolina Creations, said Whisnant’s death is a tragedy for everyone involved.

“Keith had only been with us for a short time, but during that time, he was an exceptional employee,” he said. “We wish all of our employees would work like he did. This was a big loss not only for our company, but for the community, as well.”

A representative for Whisnant’s family members said they are still in shock and declined to comment.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (704) 694-4188.


Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or shickman@brunswickbeacon.com.