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Friends plead for answers in brutal killing of 66-year-old Winston-Salem man

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Jack Atkins spent much of his 66 years on earth trying to better the lives of others. As one friend put it, he “lived a life of principles and integrity.”

“He loved to see people transform themselves and become healthy, become better people,” said Dale King, a close friend of Atkins.

“We need more people on this planet like Jack Atkins,” said King, who added that people who knew Atkins in certain circles would recognize his phrase, “Chop wood, carry water.”

But today, the only way friends and family hear his signature phrases are through each other; the only way they see his smile, is through pictures and videos.

“The whole community that I’m familiar with that knows Jack is suffering and grieving and there’s no right way, wrong way to do that,” King said.

On July 18, police discovered Atkins’ body inside his apartment on Columbine Drive in Winston-Salem. They say his injuries were consistent with stab wounds and blunt force trauma.

“Sometimes I get a little angry about what happened and how it happened,” King said.

Shortly after Atkins’ body was discovered by police, they say a person tried using his financial transaction cards at ATMs in the Mocksville and Lexington areas. Police were able to retrieve pictures and videos of that person, who they are classifying as a “person of interest.”

“I felt a little like, you know, ‘I want to get that dude,’ you know? And I want him to pay,” King said, of seeing the images.

After the initial reaction, King began running the images through his mind, hoping to pick up on something which could help identify the person featured in them.

“His arms, his body, his structure. I don’t know whether he was wearing a wig or not, but his hair, maybe his eyes, you can see a little bit of his eyes,” King said. “But, none of it struck home with me.”

Police are asking the public to do the same in the hope that someone will be able to identify the person in the images.

“I would not be surprised if, whoever might have hurt Jack, Jack was trying to help,” King said.

Through CrimeStoppers, anonymous friends of Atkins are offering a reward of up to $3,000 for information leading to the arrest of the person or people involved in Atkins’ death. CrimeStoppers also pays cash rewards of up to $2,000 for information that leads to the solution of any unsolved crime, including homicides.

“He was a fair man, I don’t think it would be anything that he did anybody wrong and it was a revenge, get even type deal,” King said. “I can’t imagine that.”