A North Carolina man is accused of killing his 10-year-old son two decades ago. John Russell Whitt, 57, was officially charged on Monday with first-degree murder and concealment of death in Orange County, North Carolina, according to ABC 11. The body of Robert “Bobby” Adam Whitt was found in 1998, under a billboard near the I-85, in Mebane. Investigators could not identify the victim until recently with the help of DNA testing.
On September 25, 1998, a lawn maintenance crew member discovered a skull under a billboard on Industrial Drive in North Carolina. Investigators arrived at the scene and found a decomposed human body. Checking the national database for missing children, no matches were found. The boy’s identity remained a secret for nearly twenty years.
However, new DNA testing in recent years cracked open the case again. DNA showed that the boy was first generation biracial, Caucasian and Asian. Orange County investigator, Tim Horne, who has been overseeing this case from the beginning, never gave up on finding the killer. He got in touch with genetic genealogy expert, Barbar Rae-Venter, who helped solve the Golden State Killer, and she found a possible cousin.
On December 26, 2018, Horne contacted the family member. The relative gave the police officer what he was searching for all these years. Investigators, now, had a name and other important details. His name was Bobby Whitt and he was born in Michigan on January 7, 1988.
This also led investigators to suspect John Whitt had also killed Bobby’s mother, Myong Hwa Cho. They soon located an unidentified female murder victim in South Carolina that matched Bobby’s mother. DNA tests confirmed that Myong Hwa Cho was the murder victim. She had been found dead in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, also in 1998.
Investigators believe Whitt suffocated Myong in May 1998, while he strangled his son in July of the same year.
John Whitt told his relatives at the time that Myong Hwa Cho had returned to S. Korea with their son. As of now, Myong Hwa Cho’s remains are in S. Carolina while Bobby’s remains are in a State Medical Examiners Office in Raleigh, North Carolina. The relatives have set up a GoFundMe so they can reunite the remains and bury them next to Bobby’s grandmother.
According to The News & Observer, John Whitt has been in federal prison in Ashland Kentucky since the 1990s for robbing people at the ATM machines while carrying a weapon. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said that Whitt confessed to both murders.