Bradley probable cause hearing to continue Friday morning

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Submitted: Fri, 05/16/2014 - 3:35am
Updated: Mon, 12/15/2014 - 10:41pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A probable cause hearing for a man accused of killing a woman whose body has not been found and is suspected in the death of a woman whose body was found recently will continue Friday morning.

James Opelton Bradley is charged with the murder of Shannon Rippy Vannewkirk, who has not been found since going missing from downtown Wilmington in early April. Wilmington Police say Bradley is also a suspect in the death of Elisha Tucker, who went missing last summer. Her body was found recently in a field off Hoover Road in Hampstead. Investigators initially believed the remains may have been Vannewkirk.

Testimony today came from a WPD detective, Vannewkirk’s mother and Steve Mott, the man on whose property Tucker’s body was found. Mott testified Vannewkirk worked for him and that the two also had a romantic relationship at times. He also testified that Bradley, who also worked for him, had access to locks that guarded his Hampstead property.

The judge has ruled that information about Tucker’s death and the discovery of her body cannot be included in the evidence needed to charge Bradley with Vannewkirk’s murder.

According to police, during interviews with them Bradley said he believed he was the last person to see Vannewkirk the night of April 5. He told detectives he picked her up downtown, but they say his story changed as to where exactly that was. They say Bradley claimed the last time he saw her was as they argued in his car on Delaney Ave. apparently about Bradley telling Vannewkirk he could treat her better than Mott could. Police say Bradley told them she jumped out of the car and ran off, but they say evidence shows at the time Bradley says they were on Delaney, he was actually returning to his home on Dawson Street.

District Attorney Ben David said he must prove to a judge that, even without her body being found yet, Vannewkirk was killed and that Bradley committed the crime. If the judge decides David failed to prove that through circumstantial evidence, the case could be dismissed and Bradley could be released.

“This is pretty high-stakes poker were playing today,” David said this morning.

This is not the first time Bradley has faced a murder charge. He was convicted in 1990 of the 1988 murder of his 8-year-old stepdaughter and sentenced to life in prison. At the time of his conviction, a life sentence allowed for eventual release. That is no longer the case. Bradley got out of prison in 2013.


  • FilmWife says:

    If this monster gets released, it will be a miscarriage of justice. He should not be free to murder again in our community.

  • Anne Russell says:

    If this dangerous scumbag is again set loose on the public, may he be run over by a vehicle or “accidentally” drown in the Cape Fear River. Enough females have been killed by this rabid dog.

  • 2quick2judge says:

    Which would make whoever does it to him just as bad if not worse than everyone is saying he is. If he walks, then clear WPD didn’t have enough to hold him and there may actually be a possibility that he did not harm either of these women. For now, we don’t know what’s going to happen and making such inflammatory comments just makes you look stupid.

  • prayers to the families says:

    I would hope that the DA has some type of physical evidence of a murder in Vannewirks case, especially without the presence of a body, before they try to charge him with murder.

    I’m not saying who may or may not be guilty but if his employer knew he had previously been in prison for murder once that he could easily be framed for others…. it’s just an opinion.

    Also, have they linked any connection between him and Tucker?? Are they saying because she was found on a property that he is associated with would mean that any other violent offender should be a suspect as well.

    Again these are just my thoughts.

  • Timekeeper says:

    In all fairness to this man, either charge him or let him go. Just because you know someone, and they turn up dead or missing does not mean that you killed them. I have never been a big fan of prosecuting someone for murder before a body Is found. If this went to trial and I were on the jury, I would vote not guilty.

  • Guest2020 says:

    There is a lot of precedence for murder convictions without a body and without physical evidence.

    A mother whose son testified that she went into the woods with her six-year old son and came back without him is serving a life sentence. Her boyfriend testified that she wished that she could get away with killing her kids. The jury deliberated for two hours

    A man in Oakland that was convicted of killing his wife, without a body. He turned down a plea deal and four months after his conviction of first degree murder, he lead authorities to her body in exchange for a deal.

  • 9743 says:

    You can try to spin it any way you want to but it doesn’t matter if McCrory had barley been if office for 30 minutes, he was still released under McCrory’s watch!!

  • Guesteasy says:

    He was released under the Fair Sentencing Act, brought to you by Gov. JIM HUNT. Look it up. You think McCrory sits on the parole board? LOL

  • SurfCityTom says:

    are you brain dead or just blowing air out your hole like a surfacing whale?

    Once the law is written and signed, the Governor has no imput.

    The law was signed by former Governor Jim Hunt. He’s with a big law firm in Raleigh; why not take the matter up with him?

  • Y says:

    You are a freaking liberal idiot. You are the one that has no brains.

  • 2quick2judge says:

    Not really sure how politics has anything to so with my comment and I’m pretty sure I registered as republican but that’s beside the point. Basically anyone with a viewpoint that differs from the majority is stupid and a liberal. Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. -Mark Twain.

  • anne russell says:

    You’re so right, Y. I’m a “liberal” who believes in the death penalty, and i hope this creep gets it this time.

  • Guest2020 says:

    He was released due to laws that were in place when he committed the crime. McCrory had nothing to do with it.

  • 2quick2judge says:

    Someone with a brain. It is very possible that he has nothing to do with anything that he is currently being accused of. I’ve never once said that his previous conviction was a mistake or that it wasn’t a horrific crime. I do maintain though that he is not guilty of harming these women until it can be proven he harmed them. Being that Mott was romantically involved with Shannon and was one of the last people to talk to her before she was reported missing, why isn’t he also being looked at? Has he not been questioned as to why there’s a body on his property?

  • SurfCityTom says:

    to lay this at MCCRORY’S feet. That man was released based on time served limits placed in effect during the prior administrations.

    McCrory had barely been in office 30 days when this man was released.

  • 9743 says:

    This man was released in 2013 under McCrory’s watch….apparently they felt he had served enough time. He probably had nothing to do with either of the murders he’s being accused of, in fact there’s only one confirmed murder, the other is still a missing person and why isn’t the property owner where the body was found not being looked at or being held as a possible murder suspect as well?

  • Delando Grady says:

    May those without sin throw the first stone

  • Anne Russell says:

    I am without the “sin” of murder, so I get to throw a large stone: if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it’s usually a duck, and James Bradley duck-walks and duck-quacks, and no matter what technicalities his lawyer pulls out of a hat, and no matter what lies Bradley tells, he’s a murdering duck and I hope he gets the duck=penalty so he can never ever again be let out of prison nor ever again kill anyone. Quack quack.

  • Process says:

    this hearing doesn’t mean he won’t be immediately charged w/ Elisha Tucker murder, in which case, we Do have a body, buried where he works.

  • guest111 says:

    You are a sick individual or his Dad.

  • anne russell says:

    Seriously, I have a sneaky feeling these people who defend this obvious-sociopath are themselves ex-cons or guilty of crimes. Birds of a feather flock together.

  • 2quick2judge says:

    Not talking big talk. Just speaking my truth. I would take him in since he has not done any harm to me it my family. Say what you will but just as you know nothing about who he really is, you know nothing about who I really am. If you did know me, if might change your tune a bit.

  • Guesteasy says:

    You must be a family member or completely insane. This man is a psychopath. He beat a little girl to death and tossed her tiny body in the trash !! I guess thats OK with you, maybe you have the same mental illness.

  • 2quick2judge says:

    Just because people believe that there is reasonable doubt that this man committed a crime doesn’t mean they were defending him. I just choose to believe that he is not guilty for these CURRENT crimes until is is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s guilty. His past crime is NOT this crime though people are using it as a means to say that he for a fact committed a crime he is currently accused of. I for one am not going g along with the public shaming and demonizing g of someone that I’m not even certain committed a crime yet, meaning the crimes he is accused of. Do I think the whole.thing sounds suspect? Yes I do. I can agree that he SOUNDS guilty, but I cannot agree that he is actually guilty because it is not something I can prove.

  • guesty says:

    We shouldn’t judge him just because he is an already convicted murderer. It was just a mistake, right? Isn’t that the line criminal defenders use? In fact, if he is released you should take him into your home. Enjoy.

  • 2quick2judge says:

    I’d gladly take him into my home and not think twice about it. He’s done me and my family no harm.

  • guest 13131 says:

    there’s a village looking for you…

  • Seriously says:

    You would take a man into your home who murdered his 8 year old stepdaughter, threw her in a dumpster, then planted her lunch box in the woods to make it look like she got kidnapped? Because he “has done you no harm?”
    A crime of the nature he committed shows a deeply disturbed person who has an incurable lack of consciousness/morality…a psychopath. Whether he is guilty of these new crimes or not, he should have never been released upon society. But if you think it’s okay to take these kinds of risks with your own family, you really should take responsibility for this man if the judge releases him. Why not?

  • anne russell says:

    You nailed it.

  • guesty says:

    There is something familiar about your user name. I just can’t quite put my finger on it…..

  • guesty123 says:

    Sure let him out, it worked really well the first time.

  • Gramps1945 says:

    I bet he’ll be driving a Wilmington Transit bus, in a year from now.

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