Arrest made in 1990 rape, murder of seven-year-old Shalonda Poole

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Shalonda went missing from her family's Hampton Homes residence on July 21, 1990. Her body was found with signs of sexual assault and strangulation the next day in a wooded area behind Jones Elementary School..

Shalonda went missing from her family's Hampton Homes residence on July 21, 1990. Her body was found with signs of sexual assault and strangulation the next day in a wooded area behind Jones Elementary School..

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A South Carolina man was arrested Tuesday by the United States Marshals and charged with first degree murder and first degree sex offense in connection with the July 1990 death of seven-year-old Shalonda C. Poole.

Donald Preston Ferguson of Spartanburg was taken into custody without incident after advances in forensic technology and investigative persistence linked him to the 23-year-old highly-publicized case.

“We never stopped looking for the person responsible for the crimes against Shalonda,” said Capt. Mike Richey, commander of Greensboro Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division.

Greensboro unveiled the Shalonda Poole memorial plaque in July 2013 in the Warnersville community.

Greensboro unveiled the Shalonda Poole memorial plaque in July 2013 in the Warnersville community.

Over the years, the Poole case had been assigned to different detectives (some since retired), each having some advances and setbacks in solving the crime.

In 2007, Det. A.R. Hinson began reviewing the case file, developing additional leads, identifying and later eliminating potential subjects - until information obtained from an interview eventually lead him to Ferguson.

Ferguson, who was 29 when Shalonda went missing from her family's Hampton Homes residence on July 21, 1990, worked occasionally in the area.

Shalonda's body was found with signs of sexual assault and strangulation the next day in a wooded area behind Jones Elementary School.

Ferguson left the Greensboro area in August 1990. In October of that year, he was charged and convicted of a sexual assault in Spartanburg, S.C. He was released from the South Carolina Department of Corrections in 1997 and was on active probation until his arrest.

Donald Preston Ferguson

Donald Preston Ferguson

Ferguson, now 52, was taken into custody at his home at 864 Carson Ave. He is confined in the Spartanburg County Jail pending extradition to Greensboro. The extradition date will be determined by the Department of Corrections.

Around 2 a.m. Wednesday, Ferguson went before a Spartanburg County judge and was denied bond.

The Greensboro Police Department Violent Criminal Apprehension Team, Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office, Greenville County Sheriff's Office, Anderson County (S.C.) Sheriff's Office and the South Carolina Department of Probation and Parole all contributed to affect Ferguson's arrest.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Detective A.R. Hinson at 336-574-4004.

12 comments

  • Gene Brock

    Finally justice for this family. Hats off to detective Hinson for your hard work. Maybe your countless hours of hard work will rub off on some of the other worthless homicide detectives in that department. My son was murdered in 2006 and it remains unsolved.

    • janeen poole

      Thank u we are so sorry about ur son my mother said she is sorry about our lost n if u need help she will help u. N she will ask mr.Henson of help.

  • Laverne1

    Good work! I went to summer camp with Shalonda and her twin in Smith homes. Now I am 34 years old and I’m glad to see this case has finally been solved.

  • Stephen Way

    I am very happy about this. I hope the family can find some relief. I have been following this tragic case for years and every time I pass the area, it makes me so sad. As for the animal that did this, I better not comment.

  • Mrs.A

    I am happy this has been solved. This has to be a relief for her twin sister and other family members. This case has always bothered me as to why the killer had not been found. Now we know why.

  • Linda

    I will never forget the that day in the summer of 1990 when I heard this horrible story on the local news. So sorry that it took so long to catch this MURDER!!! R.I.P Shalonda….

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