My Ex-Fiancee Was Murdered and Her Killer Is Still Out There
Sarah Long was found dead in her home on July 23, 2014. She had a gunshot wound to her head and her left hand was holding a revolver.
A case could’ve been made for a suicide, except for one problem: Sarah was right handed.
Sarah’s killer is still out there and her family and friends are desperate for closure.
Right after the murder, Sarah’s death was all over the news. Her story even appeared on Nancy Grace. But now, there is little attention by the media, but still a deep yearning for answers. In order to reintroduce her story and to keep her legacy alive, I spoke with Sarah’s ex-fiancee and good friend, Andrew.
This is Sarah’s story, told by Andrew.
I first met Sarah in 1995. I had been working for Lowe’s at their corporate offices for a few years already and Sarah had just been hired. Lowe’s was the biggest thing in the small town of Wilkesboro, NC, which was the birthplace of Lowe’s back in the 1940’s. I caught a glimpse of Sarah, who was fresh out of college at Appalachian State, a few times in the hallways, but the offices were very spread out and held several thousand employees. So I chalked it up to “Oh my goodness. Who is she?” and went about my business.
As fate would have it, I was given a new project that included the need for some custom software. So after touching base with the IT Director he said, “I’ll send someone to see you tomorrow to gather the specs.” The next morning, just before lunch, Sarah was tapping on the door of my office. Hay-colored hair all the way down her back, a long flowing summer dress, an overall presence that revealed a young lady trying desperately to fit into a big-time corporate world without giving up too much of her free spirit past.
I was love-struck from our first meeting. The next thing I knew, Sarah was inviting me over to the house she was renting in Purlear, just a few miles from Wilkesboro. She had just moved her mother, Faye, into the house after she left an 8 month hospital stay following an horrific late-night car crash near Cary, NC. The accident should have killed Faye, but she was a tough cookie. After her hospital stay she was left in a wheelchair with two severely broken legs. One with an external fixator and giant pins screwed through her bones. Having been a fireman for a number of years in NY, me cleaning Faye’s wounds and tending to the more unpleasant things related to teaching Faye to walk again was a relief to Sarah and a comfort for Faye.
Before long I was spending every night at Sarah’s and we were very much in love. We were traveling, hiking and doing all the athletic things she loved to do. Sarah attended one of the largest high schools in North Carolina, where she was a starter on the girls’ basketball team. Her younger brother John attended UNC Wilmington on a swimming scholarship. Her whole family was “farm strong” and very athletic. She was 5’10” tall and could bench press 180 lbs. If she grabbed you, you’d think you were being grabbed by a man. She worked out hard, several hours a day and was famous for playing in the men’s basketball league at work and setting “picks” some of her opponents are still sore from today. Looking back now, I see it all as a part of Sarah’s need to be strong enough and prepared enough to take care of herself in the event she found herself alone. In short, Sarah could handle herself.
Sarah and I eventually moved to Mooresville when Lowe’s decided to expand its headquarters in the early 2000’s. This is about the same time Sarah was growing increasingly restless and began questioning whether the corporate life was really for her. At the same time my career was taking off, where I was a member of the management team, and in the process of being promoted to Director. So while this was the period of time we became engaged, it was also the time we began moving emotionally in separate directions. One of these directions was Sarah using drugs more often. She had used pot while in college, which was not unusual for ASU. However, things were different this time as she began experimenting with harder drugs when I wasn’t looking and some of her girlfriends were introducing her to some shady people. Sarah had the big house, a solid paycheck, a fiancé paying all the bills, and the time to enjoy it all. At the same time she was growing increasingly restless and confident she was somehow missing out on something better on the racier side of town.
Things Begin To Change
So after nearly 10 years, Sarah and I finally called it quits after it was clear we couldn’t make it work anymore. I think in some ways Sarah always wondered if we might reunite at some point, but it was clear we wanted different things and our 8 year age difference didn’t help things. Sarah always felt like she was missing out on something cool other people were doing. I’m not built that way. They say in every relationship one person plays the role of the “child” and the other plays the role of “parent.” Looking back, I was clearly the parent in our relationship and Sarah loved this. It gave her the space and freedom to be the” child” she desired, knowing I’d be there as her safety net.
As time past and the sting and shock of knowing my best friend was no longer in my life passed, both Sarah and I began to see other people. Sarah left Lowe’s for an opportunity with a vendor, but eventually returned only to leave again in August of 2012. Her dad was in poor health, her mom Faye died in a horrific fire in 2010, and she married a man (Chris Reeves) who wasn’t really interested in providing for himself. He expected Sarah to provide for the two of them. To say Sarah felt like she was in over her head at times would be an understatement. I could tell she longed for a grown-up in her life again.
As 2014 approached, Sarah and I remained in regular contact. Primarily by text and phone, but in person as well, from time-to-time. It was these meetings over coffee where I could sense how she really was doing. As she struggled at times to fully kick her drug habit, it was clear she could see the light at the end of the tunnel and it was something she was proud to let me know whenever we spoke. Even as my wife and I had a baby in late 2013, Sarah would keep me up to speed. It was common for her to seek my opinion on money issues and relationship issues with her husband Chris.
It was also during the holidays of 2013 and the first half of 2014 I could tell there might be someone new in the picture and they might be having a bad influence on her. She was eager to connect but guarded in the information she provided. She received a good report on the latest cervical cancer scare she had. This wasn’t the first time for her and she was eager to tell me everything was going to be okay. However, this time she seemed more indifferent than overly happy. But there was no part of it I felt overly concerned about. I figured in time she’d share some details.
One of the things Sarah was wrestling with during this time, and seemed to be a steady topic, was the tension in her family over Faye’s estate. Upon her death, Faye left the entirety of her estate to Sarah: just shy of a $1 million. When Sarah was young, her parents divorced and Sarah went to live with Faye and her younger brother lived with her father. While they didn’t always see each other on the weekends, they saw each other at school during the week. After Faye’s passing Sarah received some pressure from here father to share or split the money Faye left her with her younger brother. However, Sarah always felt she would be the one to care for her older brother Russel, should her father pass.
Russel has an intellectual disability and is low functioning. Sarah was 8 years younger than ”Rusty” and they were together constantly when she was young. I remember her telling me a story of when she was 7, playing dolls and pulling Rusty around the neighborhood in her red wagon. Of course, the neighborhood kids her age didn’t know what to make of a 15-year-old boy who can’t talk or look people in the eye. So they naturally did what most kids that age do. They called Rusty awful and cruel names. So, in typical Sarah style, she decided to fight every single kid and throw rocks at them as they fled. Upon returning home her father was not too happy after receiving more than a few phone calls from neighborhood parents. It wasn’t long before Rusty moved to a nearby group home and Sarah was confined to seeing him on weekends. However, the idea of Rusty eventually coming to live with Sarah full time was always a retirement element we regularly discussed. It was her “someday plan” and it was something she seriously planned to do.
YATB: Were you still close with her before she died?
Andrew: Yes. For the first year after we broke up we had very little contact. Things were still a bit “raw”. However, soon after that, Sarah contacted me wanting some financial advice which I was glad to help he with, just as I was glad to hear from her. I got the feeling afterwards that she didn’t need my help as much as she was looking for an excuse to talk.
So even as we both began seeing other people, it was important to each of us knowing the other was safe. We didn’t talk about each others relationships outside of checking to see if we were happy and safe.
YATB; Her death appears to have been staged to look like a suicide. Were you initially told that she had committed suicide? What did you believe?
Andrew: On Wednesday, when they found Sarah, the Medical Examiner hadn’t announced anything yet. However, whispers were implying it was a suicide but no one had any information past rumors at that point. By the next day, word out of the Medical Examiner’s office was suicide. From the moment they found Sarah, I was convinced it wasn’t a suicide for several reasons:
• Sarah had no motive to hurt herself. If things with Chris were getting more abusive, she knew she could just leave. He had no resources to pursue her and she could always eliminate his lifestyle from a distance.
• It was not in Sarah’s nature to use a powerful handgun to hurt herself. She was far more likely to overdose.
• Both her family and I find it impossible to believe that Sarah could find herself considering suicide, while at the same time, not reaching out to her family (primarily her father) or me for help, or to say a passive goodbye, etc. Sarah would never consider hurting herself like that without us knowing why. Sarah would be far too afraid that we would blame ourselves and she wouldn’t want that.
• No suicide note(s)? Really. May seem like a small thing, however, Sarah steadily journaled her life since middle school. Usually 2-3 pages per day unless something major was happening in her life. Then it was much more. So, I find it nearly impossible to believe Sarah could be planning her own death and not, at the least, write individual notes to her family, Chris, me, etc.
These were some of the initial reason’s why I reached out to the Davidson Police the day after Sarah was found. While most were still asking “I wonder if it was a suicide?”, I had already moved onto “If it wasn’t a suicide, who murdered Sarah?”.
YATB: When were questions first raised about the cause of her death?
Andrew: By the end of Wednesday, after the police spoke with her father Larry.
YATB: There were two key people interviewed initially. Her estranged husband and her married boyfriend. Did you know either of these men? What can you say about them?
Andrew: I certainly knew of Chris, at first from mutual friends of Sarah and I. Mostly what I knew of Chris was through Sarah and what she shared with me over time. At the time of Sarah’s passing, Chris and Sarah were effectively separated. However, he was still living in Sarah’s townhouse and Sarah continued to look for ways to get him out of her house. But Sarah was his bread and butter and he wasn’t eager to give that up. This said, Chris was aware of Drew Becker suddenly being in the picture in the Spring of 2014, but there was no evidence of anything overtly romantic regarding their relationship.
YATB: Can you say anything about the investigation?
Andrew: Sarah was found dead on Wednesday July 23, 2014, in her condo on 611 Old Meeting Way, off Davidson Gateway Drive in Davidson’s Exit 30 area. It’s a relatively quiet neighborhood of apartments and townhouses, and when people asked on that day, police said there was no reason for concern. The neighbors knew something was up.
But then in early August, police and crime scene investigators from Charlotte returned to the condo for days, prompting a new wave of rumors among neighbors. Though police had not yet discussed her death, neighbors said the Sarah died of a gunshot, possibly several days before she was found.
Finally, on Aug. 20, 2014, Davidson Police issued a statement saying Sarah had been shot, and asking for the public’s help. The statement said: “Further investigation of the scene developed circumstances that appear suspicious, therefore the Davidson Police Department is continuing its investigation into this matter.”
They’ve been gathering evidence ever since, and the case has taken several twists.
Search warrants and a medical examiner’s report said Sarah was found with a single gunshot wound just above her left ear, and a .357 Taurus revolver in her left hand, but Sarah was right footed and right handed. This and other details puzzled police. One search warrant said no blood was found on Sarah’s left hand or gunshot residue, which lay across her chest with the weapon.
I asked to meet with the investigators in the first couple of days after they found Sarah. I wanted to have a chance to share with them as much as I could remember regarding the way Sarah lived, what she liked to eat, things she liked to wear and any personal habits which might be useful to the investigation. When I initially called to make a request, the switchboard operator transferred me to the investigators on Sarah’s case. They soon asked me about my relationship to Sarah and how I knew her. After explaining they informed me they were about to contact me and ask me to come in for a meeting. When I asked why, they explained how I kept coming up in her journal, photos, personal items, etc.
So when I met with the investigators I explained how Sarah was a committed vegan who didn’t drink milk or use dairy. I explained that when we were together I had to learn to eat tofu and far more fruits and vegetables than I was used to. Sarah would cook for me from time-to-time and had no issues cooking meet, using dairy, etc. because she regularly cooked for her father and little brother John when visiting home on the weekends.
It wasn’t long before they were asking me if Sarah liked milkshakes or even smoothies. I explained how I never remember her having a smoothie or anything similar and definitely not a milkshake that contained ice cream or milk. She wouldn’t drink that. This is when they first explained to me how they found a milkshake which might have been consumed by Sarah around the time of her passing, but it was still at the lab.
The police immediately made a connection to the milkshake in Sarah’s townhouse and the smoothie Becker brought his estranged wife when she was sick. After saying it tasted funny and she (the estranged wife) didn’t want anymore, he flushed the remains down the toilet. (Who does that?)
Neighbors had told police in the days after she was found that they saw Sarah with a “tall, unidentified man” the night of her death. With the phone records and searches of a wireless router and other electronic devices, police hoped they could identify him. But that hasn’t happened.
By October 2014, Davidson police were getting help from the state Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and the FBI as they tried to crack the case. At that time, police said they had “suspects” they would not identify, and were pressing their investigation. (Most likely this was her husband Chris and Drew Becker).
Around the end of September, I learned that shortly after Sarah’s passing, Drew Becker and Chris Reeves began battling in court over who should inherit her estate.
Sarah’s estate included investments, her townhouse, and other assets (Faye’s inheritance) worth around $980,000 in total. Court documents showed the two men later reached an agreement to share the estate, over the objections of Sarah’s Father and John.
William “Drew” Becker, claimed to the police to be Sarah’s boyfriend at the time of her death and he was the man who reported her missing and he filed a will with the court, which he claimed Sarah signed in May 2014. It named him as sole beneficiary of any assets that didn’t already have beneficiaries named.
Becker said in a court filing “unbeknownst to him,” Sarah also had made him the beneficiary of other investment accounts and assets she held. (Neither the family nor I believe Sarah would ever do something like that under right mind.)
Christopher Reeves, Sarah’s estranged husband, opened the estate proceedings, claiming he was entitled to a share of Long’s estate, because under NC law, a spouse is entitled to 15 percent of an estate even if it’s not specified in a will.
At Reeves’ request, the judge put a hold on the estate until the court could sort out his claim. Because of the dispute, Reeves asked the court to appoint a third-party administrator, Charlotte lawyer Michael Allen, to oversee the estate.
Meanwhile, Sarah’s father tried to halt the proceedings. He filed a request for a temporary injunction and restraining order against Becker. But the judge dismissed his request.
The three (Sarah’s father, Larry Long, Becker and Reeves) all filed court documents in late Summer and Fall of 2014, each making a variety of allegations against one another. Sarah’s father argued in his injunction request that the will was signed under duress (which I agreed with), and Becker was a target of the police investigation.
In a response, Becker replied the target wasn’t him, it was Reeves, and therefore Reeves might not be entitled to a share of her estate. Becker also alleged Reeves abused his Sarah, citing writings in a journal she left behind and one assault he claims to have seen, according to an affidavit.
Another statement came from John Long, Sarah’s younger brother. He said his sister inherited a large sum from their mother and he expressed concern regarding Sarah’s alleged intent to leave the money to Becker, saying, “Sarah was very protective of the money. She did not spend the money and did not give her husband access to it.”
John said he believes it would have been “out of character” to leave the money to Becker. I communicated to the police and the court that Sarah intended the money to be used in support of her brother, Russel “Rusty”, who is physically and mentally challenged.
Becker argued Sarah was not in distress, although she had lost her job at Lowe’s a year earlier (Not true. She retired in August of 2012). He said she was employed part-time and was working on an online master’s degree (which we could not find evidence of).
Strange Turn of Events
Then in late Fall of 2014, Reeves and Becker suddenly went from adversaries to allies, reaching an agreement to share Sarah’s estate.
With the settlement, which remains confidential, Reeves asked the court to lift a standstill order, and a judge agreed. In December 2014, Reeves filed a statement with the court acknowledging the agreement settled his claims on the estate.
At the time Becker could not be reached for comment and his lawyer told people he was going away for the holidays and was not available.
The estate battle and the mysterious circumstances of Sarah’s death made her case fodder for tabloids and TV headlines. In the Fall of 2014, the case gained national attention, from CBS News to the NY Daily News to CNN’s Nancy Grace. Many were saying Sarah’s case had a “made-for-TV movie feel.”
Since 2014, police continue to tell me they would solve the case soon. But that’s yet to happen.
YATB: The investigation is going on its 5th year. How has this long investigation affected her friends and family (you included)?
Andrew: Most of our mutual friends have moved on. Life has a way of doing that. Even John seems resolved to the fact we may never have real resolution to the case. John was always very close to his father, and when he passed away a few years ago one could tell he was wondering how much more he could take after losing his mother in a horrific house fire, his only sister to murder and father to a broken heart.
For me, I retired a couple of years ago and now dedicate what time and resources I can to finding resolution for Sarah. There are still enough unanswered questions that still need answering and I continue to have faith that within those answers may lie the keys to the truth.
Example: In the Fall of 2014, after several nasty court fights, suddenly Sarah’s estranged husband and Becker reversed course and decided to settle in a sealed settlement. Why? Who blinked? Did Becker argue to Reeves that even if the court ruled in his favor he might appeal the ruling assuring Reeves might have to wait years to see any money at all…or did Reeves discover something, maybe in the townhouse or Sarah’s things, and threatened to go to the police with it if Becker wasn’t willing to cut a deal?
YATB: Can you describe the feeling of knowing that the killer is still out there? Do you see the case being solved in the near future?
Andrew: I don’t see the case being settled in the near term. While we’re confident the Davidson Police department remain eager to solve the case, the County DA doesn’t seem willing to try the case with the evidence he has at this point. Too much remains circumstantial and he’s demanding more hard evidence.
Chris Reeves remains in the area. However, Becker supposedly moved away from the Davidson area. Potentially Tennessee. At first this really bothered me. However, I know all I need is one or two pieces of hard evidence that will move this case forward and it won’t take the police long to find whoever they need.
YATB: What would resolution mean to you?
Andrew: Everything. A positive resolution would help bring peace to Sarah’s memory and the memory of her father. Justice? We should never worry about justice. Justice is God’s business.
YATB: What have you learned from this experience?
Andrew: Patience and the fact that law enforcement, detectives are just like us. They try hard to do their best, but they don’t always get things right. Witnesses matter because their perspective is key.
YATB: Is there anything you would like the public to know?
Andrew: Sarah needs their help. While there’s a great deal of evidence and information, there’s nothing like a fresh set of eyes. I truly believe this case isn’t over and I pray someone, anyone is the angel we need to bring peace to Sarah and her family.