GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Shalonda Poole case was the only child murder cold case in the Greensboro police files since 1969 - and that made it a priority.
“The murder of a 7-year-old child will take emotional presence over so many different types,” said Detective Tony Hinson, with the Greensboro Police Department. “You are looking at something so heinous, so cruel.”
Detective Hinson has been the lead detective in the Poole case since 2007. It was one of 22 cases the Greensboro Police Department reopened.
All these years, Detective Hinson has remained close with the Poole family and talks with them on a monthly basis.
“I remember having a conversation with Mrs. Poole and she asked me to promise her that I would never give up,” he said. “I would never promise to make an arrest or solve a case but I did promise her I would never give up. I am happy I fulfilled that promise,” Hinson said.
Before matching Donald Ferguson with Shalonda's murder, detectives say they looked and cleared 25 other possible suspects in the past seven years.
“You do get to a point where you are making some headway and then you find out that this person is not involved so, yes it can be a little frustrating,” Hinson said.
Detective Hinson can't say exactly what evidence led authorities to Ferguson, but he did say it was a combination of forensic technology and interviews.
“It was incredible,” he said. “At first, I was very cautious when I began working this particular lead on Mr. Ferguson. I didn't want to alert the family too early.”
When asked how confident he is that Ferguson is their guy, Detective Hinson said, "Absolutely confident, and very happy that our team came to this point."