A Kings Mountain man is charged with murder after he allegedly shot, stabbed and mutilated his roommate before calling police and alerting them to the crime.
Michael Joseph Anderson, 19, called police at 4:47 a.m. Monday and reported he shot his roommate, Stephen Eric Starr, 36. Investigators determined majority of Starr’s wounds happened after he was dead.
Deputies arrived 8 minutes after the call at 5209 Ruth Drive. They found Starr shot, stabbed and struck with a log-splitting, axe-like tool in the master bedroom of his residence.
Anderson also allegedly carved an adjective into Starr’s side with a knife and wrote a separate statement on Anderson’s abdomen with a ball-point pen. Deputies haven’t released what those words are.
Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid said Anderson seemed calm but in a depressed state as deputies took the teen into custody. It appears Anderson and Starr lived together for less than a week, Reid said.
Something, however, prompted Anderson to take violent action against Starr, according to what appears to be Anderson’s social-networking page.
Someone posted a disturbing update on Michael Joesph (sic) Anderson’s Facebook site about 2:30 a.m. saying, “My killing starts tonight I kill one by one hopefully I kill more than one though ... One will do I guess but if you get in my way, you will be next.”
Another posting said, “I finally cracked guys I really did it this time guys.” A man listed on Facebook as Anderson’s father replied to the posting by saying, “God be with you, Michael.”
The page said Anderson is a 2010 graduate of Kings Mountain High School, interested in women and “in a relationship.”
The Facebook page lists Anderson and Starr as friends. On Starr’s Facebook page, he is listed as a 1992 graduate of Fred T. Foard High School.
Barry Leatherman, who lives across the street from Starr’s double-wide mobile home, remembered Starr as a nice man and a good neighbor.
Starr and Anderson came over to Leatherman’s house Saturday because Leatherman was giving away firewood. Leatherman said Starr introduced Anderson as his adopted son, and nothing seemed tense or awkward with the pair.
Leatherman said he thought Starr was gay, although Starr never openly spoke about it to Leatherman. Reid said the sheriff’s office hasn’t determined exactly what the relationship was between the two men, but deputies are investigating the possibility the two were involved in a romantic relationship.
Leatherman accepted Starr’s explanation that he was Anderson’s adopted father. Leatherman did note, however, that Anderson was very quiet.
According to Leatherman, Anderson had an 8-inch bowie knife attached to his belt Saturday, and he asked Leatherman if he had a wet stone to sharpen the knife.
Leatherman now wonders if that knife was used during the crime.
“Hindsight is 20/20,” he said. “I didn’t think anything of it at the time.”
Reid confirmed that it’s possible the word was carved with a bowie knife, but he doesn’t know for certain if it’s the same weapon Anderson allegedly carried with him Saturday.
Preliminary investigations revealed that Starr likely died from pistol shots or wounds from the long-splitter. Reid said Starr was stabbed and hit with the log-splitter numerous times. An exact cause of death will be determined after an autopsy. The carving and other stab wounds were likely done after Starr was dead.
Next-door neighbor Priscilla Covington didn’t interact much with Starr, but when she did, their conversations were pleasant.
“He was a cool, straight-up guy,” Covington said. “He didn’t bother anybody.”
Covington gave Starr a stray dog last summer, because he loved dogs so much. She remembered seeing Anderson and Starr together about the same time she gave Starr the dog.
Neither Leatherman nor Covington reported hearing anything early Monday morning when the crime occurred. They were alerted to the crime when they woke up Monday and saw vehicles from the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office gathered around the house, which was roped off with yellow crime-scene tape.
Reid called the crime “one of the most gruesome” events he has seen in a long time.
Anderson was charged with murder early Monday afternoon and is in Catawba County jail with no bond. His first court appearance is set for Wednesday.