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AFTERMATH OF A MURDER


 

Byline: MILLICENT ROTHROCK Staff Writer

The death of Patricia Blakley Kimble was one of Guilford County's most shocking slayings. Meanwhile, the search for justice in her case has torn apart two families.
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Patricia Blakley Kimble loved her husband. She adored him from almost the moment she met him.

And Ted Kimble has said publicly that he loved his wife.

Guilford County investigators don't believe him. They say a man in love with his wife would not pay his brother to shoot her in the back of the head and cover the crime with a fire.

Eighteen months after that fateful Monday night fire, Patricia Kimble is dead, and her husband and brother-in-law are in jail. Ted and Ronnie Kimble have been charged with first-degree murder in her death.
The Blakley and Kimble families are devastated.

Richard Blakley and Sheila Blakley still ache to hug their daughter. The Rev. Ron Kimble and his wife, Edna, watched in horror as their only two children were jailed in the heinous crime, Pleasant Garden's first homicide in recent history.

Their nightmare began Oct. 9, 1995.

On the night his sister died, Reuben Blakley called 911. Ted Kimble, who was working at his second job at Precision Fabrics, had called Blakley earlier and said that Patricia wasn't answering their phone, and she was supposed to be home.

That afternoon, Patricia, 28, left her job as an apartment complex manager early to work in the yard and then to attend a prayer meeting at her church.

After speaking with Ted Kimble, Blakley drove to the gray, wooden house on Brandon Station Road. What he saw shot a shiver of fear through him. Smoke poured out of vents near the roof. His sister's car was in the driveway, but he couldn't find her.

His call for help came in to the Pleasant Garden Fire Station about 8:30 p.m.

When they arrived a few minutes later, firefighters had trouble fighting the fire that was so hot they couldn't get close to it at first. Patricia's body had slipped through the charred hallway floor. The firefighters found her after falling into the hole and on top of her body.

"The fire started where her body was found," Deputy Fire Chief Dale Marley said. "It was a real puzzle for us because of the heat buildup. They could only get 8 or 10 feet inside the door. It was so dang hot in there it was beating them to death."

The only structural damage was in the hallway. Other rooms of the seven-room house had smoke and heat damage.

"The fire damage was mostly on that spot," Marley said. "It had to be a real hot fire."

Reuben Blakley's wife brought Patricia's father to the fire. Richard Blakley used to be a Pleasant Garden firefighter. He said he could tell by the way everyone was acting that there was a victim. And it was probably his daughter.

Hours later, detectives made an even more gruesome discovery: Fire did not kill Patricia Kimble - a bullet did.

A .45-caliber Glock handgun was found in a bedroom about 8 feet from where Patricia's body had fallen through the floor. Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes said the murder weapon is believed to be a .45-caliber handgun, but he would not confirm that the pistol found near Patricia is the one used to kill her.

When she died, Patricia Kimble had been married less than two years.
But she had loved Ted Kimble for much longer.

Ted Kimble and Patricia Blakley met sometime in 1990 through Janet Blakley, Patricia's cousin who was dating Ted at the time. She introduced them at South Elm Street Baptist Church, where Patricia was a member.

"Patricia, ever since I knew her, loved Ted," said Gary Lyles, who employed Ted for years and eventually sold him his business - Lyles Surplus Building Materials. "I never knew anyone who loved anyone any more than she loved Ted. She watched him all the time."

Patricia, who possessed an impressive work ethic, had trouble keeping still. Friends and family say she was neat, organized, responsible, kind and deeply religious.

By the time she was 16, she had enough money to buy a 1975 Mustang and pay for the insurance as well.

"She paid for every penny," her father said.

After graduating from Southeast High School in 1985, Patricia attended UNCG while working third shift at Big Star as a stocking clerk. Her parents said that management wanted her to keep the books or work a cash register - she had a terrific head for numbers - but she declined. Stocking shelves required constant movement and suited her personality better.
She often worked two jobs.

"She just had to stay busy," Richard Blakley said.

After Big Star closed, Patricia took a job in apartment complex management, eventually working several years at Cinnamon Ridge Apartments.

By the time she was 23, she owned her own house - a gray home that sits alone at the end of Brandon Station Road in southern Guilford County.

Patricia's parents are reluctant to talk about their daughter. The pain of her death is still fresh in their hearts. They declined to comment on the Kimble brothers and the case.

"The sheriff's department and district attorney have advised us not to talk about the case and that is pretty much what we are doing," Richard Blakley said. "They don't want to destroy their case before it goes to trial."

Ted Kimble also is described by friends and family as a hard worker who has a difficult time sitting still. When he was about 15, he started working for Lyles, who eventually came to look upon him as a son.

Ted and Ronnie Kimble, who are in jail without bond, declined to be interviewed for this story. Before his arrest, Ted Kimble publicly denied any involvement in his wife's death.

According to Ron and Edna Kimble, their oldest son, Ted, is quieter than his younger brother, who is talkative and more outgoing. Both sons were raised to have good manners, their parents said.

And it shows. Instead of responding with the standard "I do," as he swore on a Bible during a court hearing recently, Ronnie Kimble looked the clerk in the eyes and said, "Yes, ma'am, I do."

Ronnie Kimble, who was serving in the Marine Corps when arrested April 1, is lean and muscular with chiseled cheeks and a bright smile. Ted Kimble, a bit stockier than his brother, has piercing green eyes and a charming personality.

Their parents say the two brothers are close, but not close enough to plot a murder.

"They love each other to death," Ron Kimble said. "But they are not close enough to ever do anything like this. They've never been able to work together well."

Ted Kimble spent his entire working career at Lyles Building Supplies. An athletic man, Kimble could build an entire house from the ground up if he had to, said Gary Lyles, who knew Patricia Kimble and both Kimble brothers.

Lyles always thought that Patricia would be perfect for Ted, who dated Janet Blakley on and off for three years. When they were "off," Ted often went out with Patricia, who had become his best friend, Lyles said.

Lyles saw how much Patricia cared for Ted and liked the idea of the two getting together. Lyles encouraged Patricia when she went to him with the idea of attending modeling school. She didn't date much and wanted some input on how to present herself and how to dress more stylishly, Lyles said.

"I thought she would have been great for him," he said. "She was level-headed, sensible and managed her money well."

Lyles was looking to retire and wanted to sell his business to Ted. But he wanted Ted married first.

"I would not have sold him the business if he had not married someone sensible, preferably her," he said. "But I did not indicate that to him."

In October 1993, Ted and Janet broke up for good after he asked her to marry him. Blakley declined, opting to finish college first. Janet Blakley said that Ted Kimble suggested they marry in secret so her parents would continue to pay for her education, but she said no.

A month later, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Ted Kimble and Patricia Blakley's engagement was announced at South Elm Street Baptist Church.

"He and Pat became the best of friends when he dated Janet," Ron Kimble said. "Then, one day, Ted realized he was more in love with Pat than with the other girl."

One month after that - Dec. 21, 1993 - Ted and Patricia married secretly in Danville, Va., with Ted's parents serving as witnesses. Lyles and the Kimbles said that the couple married quickly because they were planning a trip and wanted to travel as man and wife.

"They wanted to be married, and I was happy for them. I was happy they shared it with us," Ron Kimble said. Edna Kimble said her son cried during his wedding and that Patricia reached up and wiped the tears from his face.

Patricia Kimble told her mother about her marriage a few weeks later. Her father and friends did not find out about the civil ceremony until after Patricia died.

They married secretly because Patricia Kimble wanted to have a church wedding later, which took place in May 1994. For six months, the couple managed to keep their civil marriage secret; He would leave her house early in the mornings and go to his parents' house.

Richard Blakley said he does not know why his daughter never told him about her early marriage, but that she loved Ted so much, he would have supported her decision.

After Ted and Patricia Kimble married, Lyles offered Ted the business at a reduced price. Lyles said the payment plan called for the business to be paid for in five years.

Less than two years later, Patricia Kimble was dead.

Lyles said he thought that Patricia and Ted Kimble were happily married until a couple of weeks before she died. He would not elaborate, but he said Patricia never told him that she feared for her safety. Lyles planned to talk with Ted Kimble about his concerns at a marriage retreat the two couples were to attend the weekend after Patricia died.

The Kimbles say they believe Patricia walked in on a burglary. The home had been burglarized twice before. They said that items had been stacked by a bedroom door as if someone had been preparing to take them. The first thing Patricia would have done when she came home was walk down the hall to her bedroom and let her puppy out of the bathroom, where it stayed during the day, the Kimbles said.

Patricia Kimble never made it to the dog, which died in the fire.
According to the Kimbles, Ted Kimble was a suspect in Patricia's death from almost the moment detectives realized they were investigating a homicide. They said that both sons have alibis - Ted was at work, and Ronnie was with his in-laws and his wife at the time in question.

The Kimbles claim that detectives zeroed in on Ted, ignoring other possible suspects - like the workers who installed a cabinet in the Kimble home weeks before the murder and a suspicious man who they say showed up at the burned-out house a few days after the fire. The Kimbles also say detectives did not investigate jewelry that was missing from the house after the fire.

Investigators say they checked out every piece of information given to them about the case.

Eventually, the Kimbles quit talking with detectives on the advice of an attorney. They said they cut off communication with investigators when they realized that Ted was a suspect.

That lack of cooperation extended the investigation, according to Sheriff Barnes.

"This is an old story to us," Barnes said. "They said we were harassing them. We offered to meet them any time, anywhere, any place, and they could pick the attorneys. They refused to make it happen. We even involved the SBI in this case because they would not cooperate with us and we thought they might cooperate with them.

"We tried every way we could to accommodate them and we got nothing," the sheriff said. "We got no cooperation from the family."

Barnes has said that more charges could be filed in the case. Those charges would pertain to insurance money and allegedly stolen building materials officials found during a search of Ted Kimble's business, Barnes said.

The Kimbles likely will be tried separately. The trials are probably at least a year away, officials said.

COPYRIGHT 1997 News & Record

 

Published August 15, 2006.  Report broken links or other problems.

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