Episode 4: Bar Rats
Someone Fatally Stabs Stacy Stanton inside her apartment on February third. This was violent brutal. On February third nineteen. Ninety someone brutally murdered twenty eight-year-old Stacey Stanton inside of her second story apartment in North Carolina. Then cleaned up and disappeared the residents of manual have lived in fear. For Thirty Years Stanton's killer has had one face and one name North Carolina investigators in mania police believe that someone is Clifton Spencer. But his prejudice, they absolutely have tunnel vision that it was the black man who killed the white woman keeping an innocent man convicted they will know now with. Good old. Man. And covering up more than one crime. For that guy, I, just really search lake. This is counterclockwise the investigation into the murder of Stacey Stanton. I'm your host. Delia Denver. After my interview with Gary Traffic and bizarre phone call with HP, Williams I started having some serious questions about the original investigation into Stacy's murder. The more people I interviewed the more things just seemed off about pretty much everything. No one I'd spoken with up until this point believe Clifton was a killer. And it wasn't just Clinton's friends who were expressing this. The people that now had second thoughts and may be expressed. Doubt included a former Superior Court judge and the Prior District Attorney. Obviously Clifton denies he's guilty despite taking the plea deal. Because his interview so far in this show have been on the phone you may be thinking he's still incarcerated, but he's not he was paroled in two thousand and seven after serving seventeen years of his life sentence. He's a free man now sixty one years old and a convicted felon for second degree murder. Once, he got out of prison he sort of disappeared and to find him I searched prisoner databases for a long time. Welcome to the North Carolina post-rally supervision woke nation I also pestered the State's Parole Commission. I'm looking for an offender that would have been let out on parole and two, thousand and seven, and so is there no documented history with your agency of that process? Feel Perot which Noah I believe. So I mean he was released on a life sentence in two seven. So I'm assuming it's a lifetime parole. Clifton C L I F T O. Gene when I finally got a telephone number for him I, called him this year and he agreed to speak with me when he learned how much research I've done on this case. Our interviews are recorded over the phone because Clifton, interstate truck driver, and he's never in one place for very long. We've talked a lot during his stretches on the road. I've always liked to travel. Those truck driver in army. So I decided to start driving truck again. Just been in destruct by myself it really does. Gives me a whole lot of piece of my. Ass. Mostly. What it does for me is. It gives me a lot of peace just to be sometimes just. The privacy of my own self? And what I mean by that is. into system. You never alone. You know it's always someone around you. Twenty four seven is he the other inmates or either the guards or whatever? Some people may say something like being a bit institutionalized but I look at standpoint. Being. Able to reflect on today what's been going on in my life for that Particular Day He has two ex wives and adult daughter who lives in Germany to this day. He says, they're still rebuilding their relationship. Log Daughter. was three years old. Twenty. Let's see when I saw issues twenty three twenty. But I didn't think I'll stand in as long as I did. By no means. Was Probably. Like Probably about seventeen years and I spent most of it. Probably little into North Carolina and Hornet Croatia. What was the makeup of that prison? Prison. You'll saw it was crowded. As a huge sex offender population there as well because to have the schools for two sex offenders there. Clifton says he's not a murderer but admits that he made a lot of bad lifestyle choices in nineteen ninety, which made him an easy target to put the blame on. If. I been out on drugs that have a job and hang around the people. I. Do WanNa put myself in that position in I What would you go back and tell yourself if you could speak to yourself in February of nineteen ninety. I. The phobos keeping all don't speak ahead anyone. and. Not He split in a position where I'm all with two officers. That I don't know. Wait until I can get some good legal advice. From the time that I was arrested for discharge. Made. A promise to myself. With God that all the things that transpired in my like it put the disposition. I would never do home again and I have that made a stop drinking. Using drugs stop hanging out with people that do like. Stop hanging out in clubs. In bars. Every time we talk one way or the other we ended up going through what he remembers from February Third Nineteen Ninety nothing in his version of events has changed in the last thirty years. I've compared what he's told me to the seventeen hundred pages of interrogation documents and transcripts in the case, and it's all the same he never deviates. In our interviews I knew I had to stay objective in them. That's why I kept referencing these old documents to see if Clifton changed his story I read through his statements to police multiple times. So I'd be prepared remember I started out as a newcomer to this story in my mind there's always been a fifty fifty chance that Clinton could be a murderer or he's completely innocent. As. We've grown to know one another I have no problem asking him direct questions. If. You did it kill Stacey? Who Do you think did? Worried. At all is of harassing pointed towards by. But I've always felt that he might have asked doing. He's ruled Ole Child to that. I knew as far France I, don't know any. He's the most logical 'cause I don't know anybody else. Mike. Brandon. Stacy's ex boyfriend. He's Clifton original connection to Stacey. Where log new might I? Use Carpenter and I used to deliver sheet rock to Hewitt a sites that he used to work at got on food that. I flipped back through my notes and the state lab paperwork and realized other than fingerprinting him having to interviews. Authorities never looked at Mike depth at least not the way they looked at Clifton, they didn't even retrieve Mike's hair or blood to compare to what was found at the crime scene and what was found on Stacy's body the lab only compared Clifton. DNA. To the crime scene in victim nobody else. Clifton doesn't remember much about my other than the fact that Mike Dated Stacey and they did drugs together sometimes. But Wayne Morris Remembers Mike Very, well. Might. I never liked it every time I saw that it was just something about this. Do you do? And I knew he had some racist racism in Kohl's enough seeing some guys Getting. Ready to tighten him plenty of time. When I mentioned that this Guy Used to miss with stacy us man that's Juna grew. Wayne says Mike's Crowd, always hung out in the downtown manual bars where Wayne says those who were black just didn't go except Clifton. Clifton. Went wherever he wanted unimportant with clear per se you come sometime we get high together. What are we going to party? I didn't never did he was party downtown. I wanted to learn more about Mike. So I circled back to the stack of documents that included his statements to investigators. I needed to get a clearer picture of what exactly happened at the Green Dolphin pub in the hours before Stacy's murder particularly between Mike Stacey and Clifton. In the weeks between the murder and Clifton, west the SBA in police took a lot of statements from different people who were in and out of the bar that night. and. These witnesses were a cast of characters to say the least. I there was stacey who got their between four thirty and five o'clock. Then she left briefly to go to the diner next door and eventually returned to the bar between five, thirty and six. She was said to be drinking wine coolers and hanging out for another hour or two, but eventually left upset about Mike. As we know Mike was there too and he said he arrived between five thirty and six patty row. His new girlfriend was already there and hung out with Mike when he arrived. Then, there's a set of siblings, David and Joni Newman. Joni David frequented the pub and new pretty much everyone inside. Here's memories of what transpired that night. That night we were all down the for the Green Dolphin. Me and Mike and Patty and Stacey was there. Cliff Spencer was there and Went into the pool room start shooting pool and. My Brandon and Forget the other guy's name the guy that they charged with the murder Clifton Spencer. Spencer they were in the pool room standing up against the wall. Will I overheard them talking about going to smoke crack As the night went on Joni David knew that Mike Patty and Stacey all being in the same place was going to cause problems because it was well known that drama between the three of them in the small town had reached an entirely new level. Is there something getting at you or getting in the way of you being happy do you feel like there's something preventing you from achieving your goals? If the answer's Yes, better help is here to help better help assesses your needs and matches you with your own licensed professional therapist better help as counselor network that gives you access to a broad range of expertise. You can start communicating with a therapist in under forty eight hours. 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Mike Patty and Stacey all being at the Green Dolphin pub on February second nineteen ninety was a bad mix tensions were high because word had gotten out about some salacious drama between the three of them. He was with Mike and Mike was Dayton both of them at a time. And Patty was pregnant. Just, broken up with stacey us a maybe a couple days before that or the day before. Well Patty came over there and started talking to Michael she started dating her. And argument got pretty heated. Comes up and tells stacey that you probably should leave. They were. Screaming at each other. Stays he was crying. Same, like Patty wanted to pounder. Jealousy. Patty's pregnancy and the banter between her stacey and Mike at the bar was something police already knew about. Remember Mike told police in his first statement that Patty was pregnant but he said he wasn't sure if stacy new well, obviously stacy found out at the pub and according to Joni. That's what got her so upset. Joni says Stacey was still holding out hope that her and Mike would get back together and it's not like Mike didn't feed into that. He said that just five days before the murder he was still sleeping with stacy and they'd had sex several times while he was dating. Patty. But the pregnancy changed things for Mike. He had to finally make a choice and says that night in the pub he chose Patty. Another witness to all of this is a woman named Susan Corinthian Susan wasn't easy to find. I actually had a door, knock an entire street in Manny, oh to finally locator and it was by. Chance that she was even home a few minutes before I got to her door she'd been on a bike ride. And I could have missed her by seconds. Fortunately that didn't happen, and when I explained what I was investigating, she agreed to do an interview. What do you remember for sure seeing or hearing in the bar that night I had heard that Patty was pregnant and Mike was Still Must Moran was Stacey and there was a lot of back and forth and Stacey left upset. It seems like I remember. Patty. Getting in Stacy's face and that's why Stacey left. Susan Joanie and David say they never expected that the next time they heard about stacy it'd be the news that she'd been murdered. Someplace Shah, I was just upset. I mean. She was a nice girl. She never heard anybody she didn't do anything bad. She was a good person. I just couldn't believe somebody would do something like that. When you found out the way, Stacey had been killed. What did you think? That had to be extremely personal. Did seem like for you to have that much raged on someone that you wouldn't just do that randomly that that would be something that you know you had to have a lot of heart and to spend the time the effort that was involved in killing, earn away she who was. Probably. One of the best witnesses in the bar on the night of February second is a woman named Barbara Jean McGinnis SBA agents and chief Steve. Day interviewed her on February sixth the Tuesday after the murder. Now Barbara Story. Is Pretty lengthy at this point, my investigation I haven't been able to track her down but a lot of the records I found and some testimony from sources tells me that she's likely dead. But I'll go through her statement that I located within the case file because it's important to hear. According to Barbara Statement from February sixth nineteen ninety she says, she got to the bar around seven o'clock and noticed Joni and Patty going outside together and it looked like Patti was upset. Barbara walks over to Mike to ask him what's up with Patti and why he's to timing both her and stacy. Barbara. Comes across to me as a really direct person in these transcripts she wasn't afraid to tell men when they sucked. The only thing Mike said to her when she confronted him was that he could care less about stacy. So Barbara's like whatever and goes to talk with Stacey at the Jukebox and right away it's clear to her that stacey is upset because she grabs her arm and leads barber to the bathroom to vent. Barbara says inbetween tears and drunk sentences Stacey just goes on and on about Mike leaving her for Patty. Once again, Barbara is blunt and she tells Stacey to forget, Mike he's a cheater and not worth her time. But Stacey just keeps on about Megan how much she loves him despite the fact that she says Mike Hits. Her. Sometimes. Now. This really gets Barbara fired up and she tells Stacey again to forget, Mike he's trash and she deserves better. The, two of them go back out into the bar and the next thing Barbara knows stacey is grabbing her case of wine coolers and leaving. That's when Barbara says she started hollering at Mike and most of the men in the bar for letting stacey takeoff and such a vulnerable state not even caring if she drove drunk. One of those men getting Barbara's verbal wrath is a guy named Richard Fugate. Now, Richard is the man who I mentioned earlier this season, he actually left the bar shortly after stacy and he's the Guy Clifton remembers being stacy's apartment when he was there. To be sure I did my due diligence I attempted to contact Richard. Multiple Times for the PODCAST hasn't responded. He's currently a convicted felon who released from prison in twenty seventeen for kidnapping and violent assault. I felt for my own safety, it wasn't wise to go to his home. Either way I have as full statement from his interview with. From. February fourth nineteen ninety the day after the murder. Here's a voice actor to read what he provided investigators. Got To the pub around six thirty and talked with stacy for a bit. She asked how my girlfriend was. Then she started talking about her problems with her ex Mike I shared a little more about me and my girlfriend then station I parted ways. Around eight thirty, maybe it was nine o'clock. She left I kept drinking at the bar until nine thirty then left for a walk and ended up at her apartment. We talk some more and she kept on about how upset she was with Mike. We made our way inside had a mixed drink in her place and she asked me if I would go back to the bar and convinced Mike to come over. I told her no. A few minutes later, a tall black guy showed up and introduced himself as Carter suggs from tar borough. But I'm from Tar Borough knew that this guy wasn't Carter I. Think he was lying. This blackout was wearing a jacket and a collared shirt and had short hair. He accused me of not liking black people and I started feeling real uncomfortable. So I left like five minutes after he got there. I felt weird about it though like maybe I shouldn't have left. When I got back to the Paul around ten thirty my girl had called wanting to know if I needed a ride home. I. Told her no and waited until the bar closed the bartender done. gave me a ride home. What's interesting to me is that, Richard, statement gives him a pretty solid alibi and just like Mike did he threw Clifton in the spotlight for being the last person with stacy? But if you look at it closely, Richard Actually Corroborates Clinton's memory. Clinton said in his interrogation that he was inside Stacy's apartment drinking with her and a white guy. This accurate because Richard says the same thing. Richard States that when he left Clifton Stacey would have been alone for a period of time in her apartment, which again matches Clifton version of events. So there's nothing about what Richard says that makes Clifton look like a liar about the sequence of events. What I don't know is why according to Richard Clifton said, he was this guy named Carter suggs and lied when he introduced himself to Richard at Stacey's the only thing I could find that may explain this is that maybe Clifton new Richard New the real Carter suggs and was just trying to pull a prank on Richard. I honestly do not know and Nowadays Clifton doesn't even remember this fake name thing even happening. Someone who can further back up both men's timelines of when they left. The Bar is Joni Newman she remembers both Richard Clifton leaving shortly after stacy did. She's also able to fill in gaps in Mike statements about what he did after he left the bar that night. Joni says her Mike Patty and two other people left the pub around eleven thirty and everyone came to her house, which just so happened to be one block over from Stacy's apartment. The distance between these two locations stacy's apartment and Johnny. Newman's house is much easier to understand in person. There's a video tour of it on our website counter clock PODCAST DOT com. But basically, if you're standing outside the front door at the top of the stairs to stacy's porch and you walked down to ground level and go straight, maybe two hundred yards to the next street over, you'd be at Jones back door. It is super close. According to Joni after leaving the bar with Mike and Patty, and two other people another hour went by and everyone was at her house sitting around drinking beer. Eventually, she goes to bed and Mike and Patty fall asleep on her couch. But, a few hours later she says, she woke up to loud noises. They woke me up like a Jew in the morning or something sometime in the morning my alleyway would me up because they were arguing loud and I remember hearing Mike Tell her he bashed the baby's head up against the wall. Eventually I went back to bed. Do you remember anything other than than waking you up in the middle of the night. And when you said they were arguing. What exactly were they arguing about that? You can recall I guess because she was pregnant and he didn't really on a have a baby with them. I. Don't know I. Guess that was the reason. Is He weren't very happy about it. According to Joni this kind of fight was typical for the couple Mike and Patty's relationship was volatile and everyone who knew them knew it. got a very. Good Tennessee to have anger issues I mean he grew up mostly in prison. So That was how he was. It wasn't a good relationship. It was violent I. Mean I know that they fought so it wasn't a good relationship. She drank and if she was out drinking and somebody said something she like or whatever she would fight, she wouldn't hesitate to not. She wouldn't walk away. Here's season quarantine again. She was extremely volatile person and getting physical with people was her method of of dealing with. With that and I knew that from the past and after that I saw it happen kind of regularly. She was somebody that way after drinking a lot and whatever other. Things she had going on. She had a switch that would flip. What's interesting is that both Susan and Joni say that they remember the public fights like this between Mike and Patty dropped off after Stacy's murder. It seemed like to them at least that Mike and Patty were conscious not to draw attention to themselves. What was patty like through all of this? Quiet. Quiet. But the couple didn't quite go into hiding either they actually attended a police press conference the Monday after the murder. I was able to find old news footage of the presser from whyy TV several neighbors and friends decided to attend Monday's briefing. And wouldn't you know it front and center are Mike, Patty and Joni. Day and a few others including the pub's owner are crowded into many Oh town halls conference room Joni even spoke on camera with the reporter, the police investigation that was going on I just don't say they're telling saying they know I understand they have to. Keep it. Closed on everything, but it's just hard. I asked Joni if she remembered that interview. What led you to go and and be there at that press conference. I don't know why I went. I can't remember that. ONS. I just wanted to know why who did this why would somebody do that? In the footage Mike Brandon also gives a quick sound bite the reporter stations that everybody station. She many enemies. There was also one other guy included in the news footage and his name is Ray. I knew that because in the video he's wearing a mechanic shirt with a name tag on the left breast pocket that says, Ray here's what he said to the news is feel like I have my. Say all this. It came across like he knew stacy. But what he said wasn't very personal he said quote I just feel like I have my few words to say all of this and quote. But what does that mean? I showed race picture to Susan Corrigan, and she identified him as Patty's younger brother. That's he's a little roller. Gray. Yes. That's when I pump the brakes. Why in the world was the group of people at this press conference made up of Stacy's ex boyfriend, his new pregnant girlfriend, his new pregnant girlfriend's brother and a bar owner. That didn't seem like a group of people you typically see gathered in a setting like that. Normally you'd expect to see Stacy's grieving family or close friends at a press conference like this not people she had serious problems with. What's even more crazy is the longer I stared at this footage playing at forwards and backwards on repeat I couldn't help but notice something strange about Mike. something. That just seemed completely not right. People ask me all the time. 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When your teamwork is effective, nothing can stop you to start your free fourteen day trial go to Monday dot com today. Every shot of Mike in whyy TV's news coverage at the press conference showed a man in emotional distress but something felt off to me. Take a look at the still images from this new segment on our website and Instagram, and you'll see what I mean. In, the clips Mike is sitting with his arm around the owner of the Green Dolphin pub comforting her. He's hunched over in obvious grief and keeps burying his face into her shoulder. What's extremely weird about this to me is that just a few seats away sitting alone with almost no expression on her pale white face is Mike's pregnant girlfriend Patti row she looks absolutely terrified. It's a picture I'll never be able to get out of my mind. I had to pick apart this news footage frame by frame to catch these moments and in the end I'm so glad I did because it's helpful and understanding what was going on back then between everyone involved in this story. Season Quarantine says an interaction she had with. Mike, after the press conference was unusual I ran into him on the sidewalk between the Green Dolphin and the manual booksellers and we talked about it briefly stacey had been found at that point and might have even been the next day. and. We were just talking about it. I asked him how he was doing and he said sue every time I, close my eyes I can see her. And he didn't elaborate and at the time I didn't ask any more you know have any Was, not a conversation that was a statement. I. Remember Him telling me how he couldn't close his eyes or he would see her. It seemed natural for Mike, to be grieving stacey but Susan says in all the time she knew him she felt that that kind of public display of sadness was nothing she'd ever seen for Mike before. I asked Joni how she remembered Mike Patty behaving after the crime. Did Patio Mike ever talk about this again after. Not Really, I mean, he always said he didn't have anything to do with it, but he didn't really discuss it a whole lot in doubt you know it was just a strange time. Do you remember ever being interviewed by the police after the crime. Yeah. I. Remember the the Guy was taking me to police station, which was on airport road at the time. Chief of police at the time and he said to me that he wished either done certain things that he didn't do I was thinking is your. Job To know what to do you know. and. That's when Jimmy said something to me. She remembered from the morning of February third something. The police asked her about back in nineteen ninety. Might layer when I got off the Patty was. Mike. Ended up calling my house. And he was downtown at the restaurant that was downtown at that time. And wanted to on my truck that day. You. Know he was trying to give me away because he knew that I had to dry for my brother-in-law that day. And I think that's what he did was call me. Make sure our awake and to see if he all the truck rock. And when I got up the next morning patty had the same clothes. She was not bloody or nothing like that in a what about Mike Mike I. Don't think he had the same Hoodie on I thought he had a different shirt on the next morning. Yeah. Because when I got up, like I said, he was gone all ran and he came back after. After woke up and talk to them, he come back. Got The truck what Members Mike. said he did it. Stacy's before calling her that morning changed everything I thought I knew about the timeline of this case. He had said that he had taken the coastline times up to her front door and laid it on the staff or some shit like that excuse language. And I couldn't understand why he would do that and not going in because he knew how to get in without having a key. How was that? I have no idea. I just know that he I, remember that he knew how to get into a house without having a k. Next time on counterclockwise. I'll breakdown a completely new sequence of events leading to stacy's murder and explain why my friend suddenly became someone I wanted to know more about. Down there come by and see me and I was like, all right whatever you know. I'll do to you what I did the her. Be Sure to follow counterclockwise on social media and subscribe on Apple Podcasts spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. counterclockwise is an audio chuck original show Ashley Flowers is the executive producer and all reporting and hosting is done by me. Delia dam.