Guilty plea in 2021 double homicide of motorcyclists; 1 victim was Marine veteran
News & Record March 16, 2023
WENTWORTH, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — Martin Calvin Cox, Jr. of Browns Summit pleaded guilty in Rockingham County Superior Court on March 9 to two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder in connection to the 2021 shootings of three motorcyclists on U.S. 29 bypass in Reidsville.
Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Stan Allen sentenced Cox, 43, to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to a news release from county authorities.
How the crime unfolded
On the afternoon of May 24, 2021, Isaac Fitzgerald and his wife, Haneefa Fitzgerald, 42, both of Fredericksburg, Va., and their friend Kwandre Carey, 24, of Montross, Va., stopped at Love’s Travel Stop in Reidsville on their way home to Virginia after a multi-day, multi-state motorcycle trip.
Once they finished eating, the Fitzgeralds got on Isaac Fitzgerald’s motorcycle, Carey mounted his, and the trio left to return home, according to investigators with the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office.
As they pulled out of Love’s Travel Stop at about 4:45 p.m., Cox began following them in a red 2019 Dodge Ram 4500. The group drove north on U.S. 29 bypass and Cox caught up to them and fired several shots with a 9mm handgun, between Barnes Street and N.C. 14, authorities said.
All three riders were struck by Cox’s rounds, but Haneefa Fitzgerald and Carey were fatally wounded, authorities said. Isaac Fitzgerald was treated for critical injuries at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro.
Cox fled the scene and was apprehended the next day by the Kentucky State Police while traveling through Bullitt County there, an eight-hour drive from Reidsville. Cox was extradited back to Rockingham County.
Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page said at the time of the shootings that he believed the killings were targeted crimes, though he has not disclosed investigators’ theories about a motive in the shootings.
“This type of crime is horrific. It’s not something we see here in Rockingham County. In fact, in my more than 30-year career in law enforcement in this county, I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it,” Page said in 2021.
Haneefa Fitzgerald was a US Marine
Fitzgerald served in the U.S. Marines for 15 years before her retirement in 2015, according to a resume Fitzgerald published online via wordpress, describing herself as a freelance journalist.
An administrative assistant who dealt with human resources issues within her branch of service, Fitzgerald was awarded three U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for her work, the resume said.
Motorist alerted authorities to the crime
“She’s yelling, ‘Help Me.’ She says he’s been shot. That’s what she just yelled when I pulled up and said, ‘Are you OK?,’ “ a motorist witness told a 911 operator shortly after the shooting.
“I thought I seen her motorcycle fly off into the woods,” the witness told the operator.
Cox had criminal history
Cox’s criminal history involved the sale of drugs and other offenses.
In 1999, he was charged in Guilford County with possession of drugs with intent to sell.
His next arrest came in 2011 in Guilford when he was charged with possession of a controlled substance, trafficking and maintaining a place for a controlled substance.
By 2013, Cox faced charges in Guilford of drug possession with intent to sell and selling a schedule IV controlled substance. He was charged with misdemeanor wanton injury to personal property that same year in Forsyth County.
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