LAKE PARK — More than two weeks after the death of a Lake Park jogger, law enforcement officials are telling anxious residents that the investigation remains a top priority. They dont yet have the answers that residents want.
However, Union County Chief Deputy Ben Bailey said: The Sheriffs Office firmly believes that the community is not at risk.
James Martin Mark Hudspeth, 50, went jogging on the day after Easter, April 21, leaving his home as usual around 9 a.m. When he hadnt returned two hours later, family members called the Union County Sheriffs Office.
Early that Monday evening, a sheriffs deputy noticed a door open on a shed behind Faith United Methodist Church, a few dozen yards from the jogging trail that Hudspeth and other Lake Park residents use. As he walked toward the door, the deputy spotted a mans body nearby.
It was Hudspeth.
Sheriff Eddie Cathey said investigators have ruled out accidental death. While the Sheriffs Office will not discuss the condition of Hudspeths body, numerous sources said the victim had more than one stab wound.
In a letter to residents on April 24, Cathey said, Investigators remain unable to determine whether Mr. Hudspeths injuries were self-inflicted or were inflicted by someone else. Therefore, at this point, the case is being investigated with no possibility being discounted.
In the days following Hudspeths death, the rumor mill went into overdrive in the Lake Park area.
One woman who runs a day care center near Lake Park said the uncertainty has residents worried.
Were not sure what to believe, said the woman, who didnt want to be identified for safety reasons. But its a little unnerving to think that someone could have been murdered in Lake Park. Wed like some answers.
Bailey said he understands that.
We dont like not having answers, Bailey said. Having an unresolved death investigation is a serious matter to us.
Lake Park was designed to be a close-knit community. It was developed about 20 years ago by Chris Mathisen, who wanted to create an old-time neighborhood feel. The town sits about a mile northeast of heavily traveled U.S. 74, surrounded by some of Union Countys fast-growing towns such as Indian Trail and Stallings.
Bailey would not say whether detectives are leaning toward ruling the case a homicide, saying the Sheriffs Office doesnt want to compromise the investigation. But he said there is no basis for some of the rumors.
If we believed there were any imminent threat to the community, wed be going door-to-door to warn residents, he said. If I lived in Lake Park, I wouldnt hesitate to live my life normally, or allow my family to come and go as they please.
In the days following Hudspeths death, some residents reported hearing that gang violence was involved. Cathey and Bailey said there is no evidence to support that.
Bailey noted that a death investigation is not necessarily solved in a day or two. Its not like people see on TV, he said.
Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle