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Charlotte region suffers spate of weekend killings

Six people were murdered over the weekend, sending the region's homicide tally soaring and forcing investigators into overdrive.

In Charlotte, homicide detectives responded to three deaths in one day.

While violent crimes investigated by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police were down by 7 percent last year, the number of homicides continues to climb in 2008.

Since January, there have been 22 homicides -- about the same amount as this time in 2007.

Last year's total was 74.

Mildred Clontz is one of the latest victims. The 92-year-old was hospitalized Sunday night after reporting to police that she'd been stabbed multiple times by a man who followed her to her southeast Charlotte home. He left after stealing her brown purse, credit cards and the driver's license she'd bragged to her brother about renewing for another five years.

Clontz had just come home from Midwood Baptist Church where she was treasurer of her Sunday school class, said Sarah Preslar, her sister-in-law. It wasn't dark as she unlocked the two deadbolts and pushed open her front door. Her attacker then shoved her inside. He stabbed her in the neck, torso and the back, relatives said.

Clontz knew her cell phone was in the stolen purse. So she reached up to get her phone off the wall next to her breakfast room table and called 911, Preslar said.

"She knew she had been cut but didn't know how badly," she said.

Clontz, one of nine children who grew up on a Union County farm, recounted her attack to police and relatives before dying of her injuries Monday morning, Preslar said.

"She would have given him her pocketbook if he'd have asked for it," she said. "She was just that kind of person."

Police have not released any details about the Knickerbocker Drive robbery -- one of 16 reported by people in the southeast Charlotte neighborhood off Monroe Road over the past year.

Across Charlotte on Monday, investigators continued their search for clues in the death of 27-year-old Lacoya Martin, whose body was found about 4:30 p.m. Sunday in the 1900 block of Oaklawn Avenue about five miles north of uptown. Police have not released details about how or when she may have died. Those who knew her said she was pregnant. Police could not confirm that.

In west Charlotte, homicide detectives Monday night continued investigating the death of Keith Dwayne Butler, a 23-year-old who was found Sunday night at the InTown Suites off South Tryon Street near Billy Graham Parkway. An employee told police he found Butler unresponsive. Police are not releasing details about how he died. Sunday night, crime scene technicians wore protective suits as they dug through a Dumpster next to the hotel.

In Union County, N.C., sheriff's deputies searched Monday for four men in connection with a shooting at an Indian Trail home that left a 15-year-old boy dead and a 36-year-old woman injured. Jonathan Lee Russell was shot about 9:20 p.m. Sunday in an invasion of a mobile home, according to the county sheriff's office. The Indian Trail teen was visiting a friend. The shooting took place a half-mile from Sun Valley Middle School, where Jonathan attended seventh grade. He later died at Presbyterian Hospital in Matthews.

A round grazed the head of Tamara Denise Hartis as she stood in the doorway of her mobile home, where Jonathan was visiting her son. She was treated at the scene, said Capt. Mike Easley.

A Newton, N.C., man is wanted in connection with the Sunday morning fatal stabbing of his common-law wife at a Conover, N.C., laundry.

Police in the town east of Hickory, N.C., on Monday night were looking for 21-year-old Fong Kong Yang of Newton, who is wanted for murder and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill.

His wife, 22-year-old Lao Vang, and her boyfriend, 23-year-old Keng Chang, were stabbed at about 3:15 a.m. Sunday at the VIP Coin Laundry in Conover, Conover police said.

Police said Keng drove himself and Lao to Catawba Valley Regional Medical Center, where Lao died. Keng was seriously injured.

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