CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Evidence collected from a homicide in 1991 was destroyed as the suspect in the case is about to leave prison on unrelated charges, officials said.
Barbara Dupree knew soon after her daughter Yulanda Hoey disappeared in February 1991 that something was wrong.
“After the third day, I knew something terrible had happened to my daughter,” Dupree told Eyewitness News two days after police found her daughter shot to death in a parking lot in the Hidden Valley neighborhood.
She was tormented by two questions.
“Who killed her and how she died? Someday someone will tell me,” Dupree said.
Police have believed they know who her killer has been for 25 years, but now they may have trouble proving it because some of the key evidence in the case has been destroyed.
The details of the investigation and how it may have been derailed are included in a search warrant served by cold case detectives in September.
Several days before she disappeared, Hoey called her sister with a warning that if anything happened to her she was with a man named Louis Samuels, also known as Big Lou, according to the warrant.
When police found Hoey’s body riddled with shotgun pellets, authorities quickly focused on Samuels.
Three days later they served a search warrant at his home in Hidden Valley, where they found shotgun shells and a .38 caliber revolver.
They spoke with Samuels’ uncle, who told them Louis had come to him 10 days earlier and asked him to hold onto a shotgun.
Federal ATF agents joined the investigation and in July 1991, they served their own search warrant on Samuels’ home, focusing on the bathroom where they found blood that later proved to belong to Hoey.
The case against Samuels was mounting but in November 1991 that was put on hold when Samuels was convicted in federal court on firearms charges.
He was sentenced to 45 years in prison and the investigation into Hoey’s homicide was put on hold.
The ATF closed its investigation into Hoey’s homicide in 1997 and on July 13, 2000, a police search warrant said the evidence collected by ATF was destroyed.
That included biological evidence, lead pellets, shotgun shells and Samuels’ clothing.
Later, police learned that Samuels’ 45-year prison sentence had been reduced by 19 years. He is now scheduled to be released in November 2017.
Investigators went back to Samuels’ old home in September in hopes to recover any evidence that might still be there.
The family living there said police spent the whole day tearing up the floor and wood work, even going under the house, taking parts of the floor, subfloor, molding and pipes with them.
CMPD detectives are not commenting on the case because it is ongoing and they are waiting for lab tests on the evidence they have seized.
Eyewitness News contacted the ATF, the agency that had destroyed that evidence, but a spokesman said they are not commenting on the case either.
The family of Yulanda Hoey is quietly waiting for the answers they thought they had 25 years ago.
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