Was a hit and run in North Carolina racially motivated?

Police sketch of caucasian male with large forehead, long dark hair, and mustache

Witnesses described this man to police

Suspect:

Gender:Male
DOB: 1962
Hair: Stringy blonde or brown
Defining Characteristics: May have a mustache

CASE DETAILS

Fire fighters and investigator examine the wreckage of a fatal car crash

Why did he cause this fatal crash?

It all began on the quiet afternoon of December 23, 1988, in Greensboro, North Carolina.   19-year-old Ken Dungee was picked up by three of his friends en route to do some last minute Christmas shopping.   The four young African-American men planned to make the hour and a half trip to Raleigh on the I-40 Highway.   It had been a good year for all of them.   The driver, 17-year-old Lavern Allen, had just received a scholarship to the Air Force Academy.   Ken Dungee was a drafting and engineering student, headed for college in the fall.   17-year old Kenneth Newkirk had just received a scholarship to a local college.   And 17-year-old Darius Bannerman was a high school basketball star with a promising future.   On their way to the shopping mall, the four passed a car driven by a man named Grady Alexander:

Monte Carlo car ramming the back of a black car

The Monte Carlo repeatedly rammed their car

“When they went by me, they were doing about 60, 65. I looked over, and one of the boys saw me looking at him, he grinned and waved, and the car kept on going.   After that, another car came up on me very fast.   And as it got by me, I happened to look down at the license plate, and I said to myself, ‘a redneck from Georgia.’   Because his hair looked like it was dirty and greasy and stringy.   And he was probably doing 75 or 80.”

A few moments later, Lavern Allen noticed a blue Monte Carlo closing in at a high rate of speed:

“When I looked in the rear view mirror, I saw a car and he was so close to me, I could not see his front bumper.   That’s how close he was.   At first I just thought it was somebody tailgating, just riding close.”

Police officer tipping his hat to a grounded helicopter

Lavern Allen was airlifted to the hospital

Still weary from an earlier basketball practice, Darius Bannerman was napping in the front seat when he was suddenly woken up:

“I was sleeping and everyone in there was talking about this guy that’s following us.   At first, I didn’t think anything of it, but, the guy was extremely close to the point where, you know, it was like right on our bumper.   He bumped us, and it didn’t seem as though this was all happening… it was like, horror. Traffic was moving fast and we speeded up to get away from the guy.   The man driving the Monte Carlo, he had a look like we had done something personal to him, like mad.   It just looked like he wanted to hurt us.”

Victim Lavern Allen the third

Lavern Allen lll

Then, without warning, the Monte Carlo pulled alongside the boys’ car and rammed it off the highway.   A few minutes later, police and paramedics arrived at the accident site.   They found a horrific scene.   Lavern Allen was trapped in the car for half an hour.   After being airlifted to a trauma center, his leg was amputated at the thigh.   Ken Newkirk had suffered a fractured skull and a broken leg.   Darius Bannerman had a broken wrist and facial injuries.   Ken Dungee was pronounced dead at the scene.

Beth Velliquette was the first reporter on the scene and spoke with several witnesses who described the assault:

“The eyewitnesses said that after the car… went off the road, the Monte Carlo did pull over to the side.   A man and a woman got out, just for a moment, and looked back, and then… drove off.”

Victim Darius Bannerman

Darius Bannerman

Because of a lack of evidence, the police were reluctant to treat the incident as a crime.   However, the victims believed that it was a murder.   The driver of the Monte Carlo had a mustache and brown stringy hair.   He was traveling with a woman who had blond hair.   The wanted vehicle is described as a light blue Monte Carlo, with Georgia license plates.

 

 


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season two with Robert Stack and season seven with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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40 Comments

  1. Jayne

    All lives matter.

    Reply

  2. C.S. Alexander

    To Ash Paladium, who called my father “the problem in America “, you are an ignorant fool. My dad spoke the truth and that man was a REDNECK from Georgia. My Dad was just recounting what he said in the vehicle, not making a public statement. You are part of the cancel culture and YOU are the problem with America. Go back to holding Trump’s hand like a good little sheep.

    Reply

  3. Buddy Hall

    It isnt fair to assume that these 4 African-American men provoked the monte carlo driver.
    But it also isn’t fair to assume it was a racially motivated attack just because the driver and his girlfriend are White.
    Therefore, If you are assuming it was racially motivated attack just because the suspects are white, then your just as ignorant as the people who are accusing the 4 African-American men of provoking the attack.

    Reply

  4. James Morrison

    This story is so baffling. The victims car looks like a charger or a challenger and could have easily outrun a Monte Carlo. Because no one else was there we don’t know whether it was racially motivated or they had an earlier altercation with the driver. They are not going to admit any blame on themselves. Not that they did anything but they are not going to say if they did. Also there is not one photo anywhere of Kenneth Dungee. Why is his identity hidden so thoroughly? My feeling is Mr. Dungee knew or had been in an altercation with the driver even if the other passengers weren’t aware of it. There is a side of this story someone does not want told.

    Reply

  5. unsolvedfanatico

    My guess is the police probably suspect who did it but don’t have enough evidence to bring charges against him.

    Reply

  6. Pete

    I cannot believe some of the ignorant, racist comments from people. Well, actually I can, unfortunately. My heart goes out to all impacted by this, and I send you positive energy all the way from Maine. Way to take charge of your lives and make a positive impact on your world, fellas.

    Reply

  7. Carmen Gaither

    After reading all of these comments the one that stood out the most for me was the one posted by a police officer who actually had the audacity to suggest that perhaps the driver who deliberatley dumped their car and ran them off the road “…probably didn’t realize how bad it was…” as if that somehow excuses the reckless behavior that seriously injured three and left one dead! Such a ridiculously callous comment coming from someone who has taken a vow to protect and serve.

    Reply

  8. DC

    Whoa. @jackiemayers Rodgers killed a woman in my city in 95!

    Reply

  9. Sue B

    Horrible that no one thought to get the license plate of the Monte Carlo. The driver stopped and looked at the crash- back then we didn’t have cellphones which could have captured the whole incident. I hope that the female passenger’s conscience ears away at her and she will come forward.

    Reply

  10. Don Hall

    Not sure if this is a racist hate crime or not but it is hard to believe the suspect and his girlfriend have never been located. Grady Alexander seems like a good honest man and is a key witness as he saw the Georgia licence plates, so surly he told police the licence plate number and a good detailed vehicle description. Also those 2 truckers witnessed the incident and both saw the suspect and his girlfriend and the vehicle. Its not as though the suspects were wearing masks. Makes no sense why police cant locate them after all these years and the suspects have got away with reckless driving and murder.

    Reply

  11. Heidi

    This story made me so sad and angry when rewatching it as an adult and realizing the driver (and passenger/accomplice) had not been caught. What makes me even more sad and angry is reading some of the ignorant and hateful comments that several people have left. Shame on you to even be thinking such things, let alone posting them on a forum to broadcast your uninformed, hurtful, thoughtless opinions. My heart goes out to the gentlemen who had to endure this horrible senseless crime, and to their families.

    Reply

  12. Ivan

    This is an awful case that is really difficult to solve because it was a random act. No matter how much we want justice in this case, God’s justice will be sufficient. He’s got what’s coming to him. It may not be what we want, but he’ll get what he deserves; if he hasn’t already.

    Reply

  13. Jackiemayers

    I always felt that Rodgers did it, I now the Dundee family!the same Rodgers that-said he killed Ron Goldman & Simpson His own sister turned him in. He’s the killer!!!!!

    Reply

  14. JBrand

    Informant came forward and had information about this ” ugly individual but nothing has come of it.

    Reply

  15. Bill Blaski

    Why didn’t the NC highway patrol run a light blue Monte Carlo with GA tags thru GA DMV? Unbelievable to me no one got a plate #. If this happened in 88 , surely Grady could’ve said it was a 82-88 Monte Carlo. These cars are registered, and once you pull the registration you can pull the drivers incense to find a greasy blonde hair guy.

    Reply

  16. Monikka

    Just watched this episode here-
    https://youtu.be/ZHzy9CGodnw
    So disappointed it still hasn’t been solved. My heart goes out to the victims, especially Kenny’s mother and family, right before Christmas. Just devastating, I couldn’t imagine. May justice be found, on Earth or in the afterlife. Sending you, Darius, my prayers & lots of love.

    Reply

  17. Carl Jean-Louis

    I remember watching this Unsolved Mysteries episode some 25 years ago, when I was about 12. I remember being both scared and appalled at the senseless act of violence who appeared to me like typical role models for a young black male like myself.

    Fast forward 25 years, while watching this episode on Amazon Prime, I wondered if this senseless crime was ever solved—I was shocked and saddened to see that it wasn’t solved. Mr. Bannerman, God Bless you and your friends, and I sincerely hope and pray that justice is served. I am happy to hear that you and those who survived are living and leading successful lives.

    God Bless.

    Reply

  18. Darius Bannerman

    We did not provoke anyone…just 4 friends ( seniors in High school ), headed to Raleigh to finish our Christmas shopping. We thought it would be cool to do some of our shopping in another city other than Greensboro. Remember this happened in the middle of the day, 2 days before Christmas of 1988 on I-40….and only a few people saw “anything”. Yes, we are all living successful and fulfilled lives now, with families of our own, but that does not excuse racially motivated acts of violence. Thank you for all of your kind words…

    Reply

    • Amber

      It breaks my heart that this hasn’t been solved even with all of our new technology. You’re amazing for moving forward and becoming successful.

      Reply

      • Andrew

        Hope they catch this piece of human trash that injured you and your friends and who killed Ken. Very sorry you all went through this, this is pure evil and it should not have happened!

        Reply

    • Rex Hall

      Have the police ever gave you any updates on their search for the piece of crap responsible?
      If so, when did they last update you on their investigation?
      Surly they must have some information after all these years.
      If the piece of crap is still alive and living in Georgia then he cant be too hard to find.
      Very dissapointed in the lack of progress in this case.
      It seems like the police haven’t even tried at all.

      Reply

  19. Judith Arnett

    This case could have been solved years ago, if anyone had ever tried.
    Why was’t a roadblock set up immediately?
    Why didn’t authorities in Georgia try to track down the Monte Carlo and its owner?
    The Monte Carlo had to have damage to the front end, and probably even paint from the victims’ car.
    This is more than a tragedy — it is a horrible travesty.

    Reply

  20. Ash Paladium

    Tragic accident and I hope the driver of the Monte Carlo is found.
    Also, I find it ironic that Grady Alexander gets away with making a racist statement such as “Georgia Redneck”. He is making a generalization and its exactly the same as calling a black person a Georgia Hoodlum. No different. Of course then it wouldn’t be printed here on this site. Double Standard. Grady Alexander is the type of person who is the problem in this country. Until people like him stop generalizing people, racism won’t end. I never knew that greasy hair and beomg white from Georgia qualifies one as a “Redneck”. Ignorant.

    Reply

  21. Richie

    I just watched this and it’s truly heartbreaking to even imagine. The death of Kenny Dungee, the unidentified mystery suspect. He may have never been found, but the guilt is sure tearing at his life and soul.

    Reply

  22. C.S. Alexander

    My Dad is Grady Alexander, the man interviewed who saw the blue Monte Carlo. I was in the back seat asleep when it happened, but woke up when we pulled over and Dad got out. I walked over with him and it was tragically surreal. Dad did everything he could to help at the scene and then later with the investigation. The SBI tried to hypnotize him to see if he could remember the license plate of the “redneck from Georgia”, but it didn’t work. I think it bothered him alot that he couldn’t do more.

    I am thankful to read these guys ended up having good lives and will always hold sorrow in my heart for the friend they lost.

    Reply

  23. Michelle

    Ken and I lived in the same neighborhood. I had recently moved away but was visting for the holiday when this tragic happen. I think about him from time to time. I just can’t believe they never did anything to try to solve this case. Justice will be served or it might have already happen.

    Reply

  24. Just Wondering

    Why don’t the reopen this case? I know now the police can run a search with the description of the vehicle to locate the owner of the Monte Carlo. They know the card had Georgia tags. I’m sure there will be several but I feel like someone could narrow it down.

    Reply

  25. chanita

    I Think The Reason Why He Did It IT’S Because He Was Mean And He Deserves To Face The Death Penalty Two Of Those Freinds We’re Murdered For No Reason!

    Reply

  26. Stefan cole

    What a scumbag whoever did that to those guys and after all these years they never solved it. I hope God brings total judgment on that basterd.

    Reply

  27. Larry

    I saw this episode decades ago and my first thought was that the black kids were probably hiding some inconvenient fact. I’m willing to bet they provoked the guy by harassing his woman somehow. I would be very surprised if he attacked them for no reason at all.

    Reply

    • Jonathan

      What a heartless thing to say. You hate blacks that much. People like you should just crawl into a hole somewhere. There were other drivers that were interviewed and no one said anything about the black kids provoking the driver, if you paid attention to the segment.

      Reply

    • Kasey

      Why would that be a surprise? People are attacked for no reason all the time. Idiot.

      Reply

  28. Scott

    This is obviously motivated by prejudice period. Anybody saying otherwise is a fool. It’s sad that ignorant sub human beings are allowed to operate a vehicle when they’re beliefs are based on pure stupidity and prejudice. I hope the scumbag that did this ended up with a disease that took his life in a painful manner. I’m happy to hear that the other three guys were able to move on the best that they can.

    Reply

  29. Wonder

    To think this is racially motivated is insane, after decades in law enforcement it is almost impossible to determine the race of people in a car when it is in motion, I just think the people in the other car din’t think it was as bad as it was and when they saw the damage they inflicted chose to run, my prediction is after all this time and no evidence this won’t be “solved”

    Reply

  30. Chris

    It’s to bad they didn’t slowly stop the car, it’s 4 of them one of him and his girlfriend

    Reply

  31. Petaa motex

    This is also the creepiest sketch I have ever seen! What a dude! Hope he gets caught for what he did to those guys!

    Reply

  32. BV

    I’m the newspaper reporter who was in this segment. A couple years ago, I found Darius Bannerman and interviewed him in person. I interviewed the other two survivors by phone. They are strong men, working at their careers, good fathers, and even though they live in different cities, they still remain close friends. My article appeared in The Herald-Sun of Durham, NC. The crime was never solved. 1-17-2015

    Reply

    • Kathy

      I am so happy that you spoke up for these young men. I have known each of them since we were all teenagers. To the person who assumed that they did something to anger the Monte Carlo murderer is absurd. These guys are class acts and were/are not the type to be “hateful” towards anyone.
      The guys are all doing great and prosperous with families and great careers.
      It is my hopes that the persons responsible for murder and tragic life changing event is eventually found and that Karma pays THEM both a visit.

      Reply

  33. lord rob main

    did they ever find out who did this.

    Reply