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5 Things to Know: Dunhill Hotel Mystery Solved After 35 Years

...and four more stories from June 11-17, 2023

An old picture of Oliver Doc Mundy, whose remains were found in an elevator shaft during the construction of the Dunhill Hotel, wearing an Army uniform in his young age.
Oliver Doc Mundy’s remain were found in an elevator shaft during the construction of the Dunhill Hotel. (Photo courtesy of CMPD)

Dunhill Hotel Mystery Solved After 35 Years

CMPD announced Tuesday that, using forensic genetic genealogy, they have identified three men whose bodies have gone unidentified for years — most remarkably one man who was found dead in the building that now houses the Dunhill Hotel more than 30 years ago.

According to a release, police identified the partial skeletal human remains found in a wooded area near Dixie River Road in 2008 as belonging to Jose Elder Espinoza, who was 25 when he went missing in 2003. It’s believed that Espinoza was murdered, and the case is still open.

Investigators also identified the remains of a man found on Trailer Drive in 2021 as Cody Harrell, originally from South Carolina but known to have lived on the streets of Charlotte. Harrell’s death is not believed to be a homicide.

Another man identified in May has been the source of rumors about Uptown hauntings since his body was discovered in an elevator shaft at 237 N. Tryon St. in 1988 where the Dunhill Hotel currently stands. The building had been abandoned since 1981 but Dunhill Development had recently purchased it and began a remodel to build their hotel. Investigators identified the man as Oliver Doc Mundy, born July 20,1923.

Mundy, known by his family and friends as “O.D.,” was a World War II veteran from Mooresville who had been known to live on the streets of Charlotte at the time of his disappearance. He had at one point worked at J.B. Ivey’s and Company, now The Ivey’s Hotel, a block from where his body was found, and was said to have “displayed great bravery in the invasion of Bougainville and at New Calendonia” during WWII.

Munday’s family in Mooresville will receive his remains for final arrangements.

Two Charlotte Icons Among National Grant Recipients

The National Trust for Historic Preservation on Tuesday announced millions of dollars in grants that will be awarded to 40 sites representing African American history across the country, including two in Charlotte: the Morgan School in Cherry and the First Baptist Church-West on Oaklawn Avenue.

In April 2021, Queen City Nerve covered the efforts of the Cherry Community Organization to retain ownership of the historic Morgan School, which was built for Black children in 1925 and closed in 1968 due to integration.

morgan school, cherry community
Members of the Cherry Community Organization outside of Morgan School in 2021. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

A release on Tuesday read, “As the permanent stewards of the Morgan School, the Cherry Community Organization envisions a new life for the site as the Historic Morgan School Community Learning and Heritage Center. A business plan with a comprehensive fundraising strategy will provide these community stewards with the necessary roadmap to preserve Morgan School and ensure that its educational legacy has a sustainable future.”

Recognized as the oldest Black Baptist church in Charlotte, First Baptist Church-West was designed by Harvey Gantt, the first Black mayor of Charlotte and the first African American student admitted to Clemson University. A comprehensive plan will allow the history of the sanctuary to be preserved with necessary repairs to the roof and baptismal area, according to the release.

“The Action Fund’s investment in and celebration of 40 historic African American places illustrates our belief that historic preservation plays an important role in American society,” stated Brent Leggs, executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and senior vice president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The history embodied in these places is emblematic of generational aspirations for freedom, the pursuit of education, a need for beauty and architecture, and joys of social life and community bonds. That’s why the Action Fund believes all Americans must see themselves and our shared history in this year’s grantee list if we are to create a culturally conscious nation.”

City Launches Nonprofit Supportive Housing Grant Pool

The City of Charlotte announced Friday that it will issue $6.5 million in one-time, ARPA-funded grants to support the project and/or programmatic costs of local nonprofit agencies seeking to advance housing solutions for individuals or families that have been disparately impacted due to COVID-19.

Nonprofit Supportive Housing Grants will assist nonprofit organizations that serve residents who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or facing housing instability. Projects and programs covered under this grant include affordable multifamily rental housing, affordable homeownership, supportive housing developments, temporary emergency housing or non-congregate shelters, and supportive services such as housing case management, housing search and counseling, employment assistance and job training, mental health services and more.

Nonprofits may submit applications for grants up to $2.5 million until the application process closes on July 14. A virtual application workshop will take place June 22 to assist nonprofits and provide a Q&A session. Visit the city’s portal for eligibility requirements and other info.

Michael Jordan Said to Be Closing Hornets Sale

ESPN on Friday reported that Michael Jordan is close to finalizing a deal that would sell his majority stake as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, a position he’s held since 2010. The deal would reportedly place Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall, minority owners of the Hornets and Atlanta Hawks, respectively, at the top of the Charlotte Hornets organization as co-governors.

The deal also reportedly involves some bigger names who will have smaller stakes in the new ownership group, including rapper J. Cole, who was raised in Fayetteville, as well as country artist Eric Church, an Appalachian State alum who was born in Granite Falls.

Michael Jordan paid $275 million for his stake in what was then the Charlotte Bobcats in 2010, eventually supporting the fan-led drive to bring back the team’s original moniker. He sold a significant minority stake to Plotkin in 2020, as well as Daniel Sundheim, who is said to also be a part of the group looking to buy the team. Both men are chief investment officers at large capital investment firms.

It’s unclear at the time of this writing just how much Jordan will be selling the team for.

Boy Killed in North Charlotte Home

A 12-year-old boy was among Charlotte’s homicide victims this week, which began with two killings in separate incidents on Sunday.

At around 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning, police responded to a shooting call in the Atkins Circle apartment complex in south Charlotte, where they found 29-year-old Reginald Averi Gilkesson dead from apparent gunshot wounds. Police later arrested a 25-year-old suspect in Gilkesson’s killing and charged him with murder and shooting into an occupied property.

Shortly before 10 p.m. the same day, police responded to a shooting call on Southwest Boulevard in the University Park neighborhood in northwest Charlotte, where they found 36-year-old Anthony Dewayne Haley suffering from gunshot wounds. Haley was pronounced dead at the scene. Police later arrested a 28-year-old suspect in Haley’s killing and charged him with murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Shortly after 2 p.m. on Wednesday, police responded to a shooting call on Mount Holly-Huntersville Road near Bellhaven Boulevard in northwest Charlotte, where they found 21-year-old Paul Ja’Varius Tate suffering from a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police later arrested a 16-year-old suspect in Tate’s killing and charged him with murder.

Shortly after 11:30 p.m. on June 15, police responded to an assault call on Suntrace Way near the Love Fellowship Church in north Charlotte, where they found 12-year-old Ahmad Wrighten suffering from apparent trauma. Medic transported Wrighten to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The boy was reportedly shot in his home. It’s unclear what led up to shooting, though police later arrested two suspects who also live in the home, a 34-year-old man and 32-year-old woman, and charged them both with murder.

Wrighten was the city’s 40th homicide victim thus far in 2023. There was 46 at this point last year.

[UPDATE: Early on Saturday morning, at around 2 a.m., police responded to a shooting at Fusion Lounge on East Independence Boulevard, where they found one person dead and three others suffering from gunshot wounds. It’s unclear at this time whether all four were shot by one suspect or multiple people exchanged fire.]

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