Man wanted for murder arrested

By: W. Curt Vincent -

ELIZABETHTOWN —On Saturday morning, Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker announced the arrest of Harold Eugene Swindell, 47, of Clarkton in the shooting death of a Clarkton man on Wednesday.

Swindell went to the Bladen County Jail around 10 a.m. Saturday and told a deputy he heard he was wanted and wished to turn himself in. Swindell was processed and booked into Bladen County Jail under no bond. He is charged with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

He was expected to have a first appearance hearing in Bladen County District Court on Monday.

Lonnie Level Smith, 38, was shot and killed during an altercation at Oakdale Homes in Clarkton on Wednesday afternoon. Swindell was a suspect in the case early on and warrants for his arrest were obtained Thursday. Officers had been actively searching for him since Thursday.

McVicker said investigators were able to locate several eyewitnesses who all gave consistent statements concerning the incident that lead to the shooting.

“We are still not clear what actually started the argument but we do know it involved several individuals,” he added.


Assistance is needed


The Sheriff’s Office is seeking assistance from the public to identify a group of young, black males who robbed a group of migrant workers on Friday night at a home off Sholar Road just north of Elizabethtown.

The migrant workers, five males and one female, were outside a home they had rented just this week when they were approached by a group of between four and six young black males who offered to sell them marijuana. The workers declined and, when they did, the men drew weapons and robbed them.

During the robbery there was a struggle between the gunmen and the victims and shots were fired. At least two rounds struck Leonard Zongua, 33 of Elizabethtown. He was transported to Bladen County Hospital but was pronounced dead.

Anyone with any information on this robbery/homicide is asked to contact the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office at 910-862-6960.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.
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W. Curt Vincent