2 arrested in Tennessee after Locust man found dead

Published 5:54 pm Thursday, August 27, 2020

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Two individuals have been apprehended after a man was found beaten to death early Thursday morning.

Locust Police officers were dispatched at 12:05 a.m. to a camper residence at 6438 Griffin Hill Drive. Stanly 911 Communications reported a man had “been beaten up real bad,” police said in a release.

Officers found Eddie Wayne Love, 48, with signs of severe head trauma on a makeshift porch area of his residence. Love was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:19 a.m.

Locust investigators arrived on-scene to begin investigation of Love’s death with the assistance of special agents and crime scene agents from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

During initial investigation an unidentified white male and white female became persons of interest after it was alleged that a dispute between Love and the unidentified male turned into a physical altercation that resulted in Love being beaten severely in the head and face area, Locust Police Chief Jeff Shew said.

Further investigation resulted in Dakota Dylan Wensil, 22, of Mt. Pleasant being identified as the suspect in Love’s death, and Lily Juanita Lefler, 22, also of Mt. Pleasant, being identified as the female present during the altercation.

Additional investigation throughout the day of Wensil and Lefler resulted in probable cause being developed by investigators to charge Wensil in death of Love, and Lefler as an accessory to the crime after the fact.

Investigators also learned Wensil and Lefler had fled to Tennessee and warrants for their arrests were obtained, Shew said. Wensil and Lefler were apprehended without incident in Erwin, Tenn. Additional charges are being investigated, and extradition back to North Carolina is pending and expected, Shew said.

“We believe they were together or hanging out the evening of the incident, but have not determined if they knew each other prior to Wednesday evening,” Shew said.

In addition to Locust Police and the SBI, Stanly County Sheriff’s Office, Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office, Stanfield Police Department and the Erwin Police Department assisted during the investigation.

“We would also like to send our most sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Love,” Shew said.

The investigation into whether a weapon or fists were involved in the altercation, as well as motive, is ongoing, Shew said.