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Former Orange deputy’s determination pays off after suspect named in 20-year murder cold case

May 15, 2019 GMT

A former deputy for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is seeing one of his oldest cases through to completion – even though he’s no longer on the force after retiring recently from the job.

The dogged persistence from investigator Tim Horne helped crack a 1998 cold case, just before he left his job earlier this year.

Horne’s efforts helped identify the remains of a young boy found under a billboard in Mebane as those of Bobby Whitt.

His father, John Whitt, was charged Monday with murder in connection with the grisly discovery.

Horne volunteered to drive the boy’s ashes from Orange County to Ohio, where relatives of the slain youngster live. He is expected to start the journey to the Midwest on Wednesday.


He says it’ll help him close the book on a case that has captivated his thoughts for 21 years.

“I thought it was important to bring closure for the family and myself, really,” Horne said. “It’s his final journey home. I’ve had him for 20 years, and now I’m able to return him to his family.”

Bobby’s ashes have been preserved in an urn that has sat on a mantel at Horne’s Chapel Hill home for a few days.

Horne was one of the first investigators on the scene when the boy’s remains were discovered in 1998.

Horne persistently and dilligently worked the case, which was solved through the use of DNA.

“It was very rewarding after such a long journey to finally get that indictment,” Horne said.

The genetic testing wasn’t available when Bobby was slain, but later advances have helped many law enforcement agencies solve cases that have long gone without resolution,

In cracking Bobby’s case, investigators solved another mystery.

Unidentified remains found that same year in South Carolina have been positively identified as those of Bobby’s mother.

Whitt is a suspect in that killing, too.

Horne will transport both sets of ashes to their relatives in the Midwest.

The cremations were made possible thanks to a GoFundMe campaign, started by relatives of the victim.

Horne said he is making the trip to Ohio on his own dime, saying it’s an honor to finally have resolution in the case.

“I’ve become friends with the family,” he said. “I talk to them at least every other day.”