WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A Winston-Salem Police Department investigation has revealed that Darryl Hunt died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his torso.
Hunt, who served nearly 20 years in prison before DNA results exonerated him, was found dead in Winston-Salem Sunday morning.
His body was found inside a vehicle in the 2800 block of University Parkway, according to police.
Police say Hunt appears to have shot himself; the doors to the truck he was in were locked and the gun was found near his body.
Investigators said they found no evidence of a struggle in or near his vehicle.
A Silver Alert was issued Saturday after Hunt was not seen for nine days. Hunt suffered from a medical condition which requires treatment. He was last seen in the area of 800 Garfield Court in Winston-Salem, according to police.
Hunt was wrongfully convicted of rape and murder in 1984 and was freed after serving nearly 20 years in prison. DNA results helped exonerate him. Hunt was awarded a settlement of $1,650,000 in 2007.
Authorities are awaiting final autopsy results and are still working to gather and evaluate evidence in this investigation. Officials are still attempting to determine where Hunt was in the days that preceded the discovery of his body.
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the Winston-Salem Police Department at (336) 773-7700 or Crime Stoppers at (336) 727-2800.
Dr. John Mendez, a friend of Hunt’s, says Hunt was a man of resilience, strength and compassion. Mendez remembers the day Hunt was exonerated for the crime committed against Deborah Sykes.
“The day he was exonerated in court, when he turned to Mrs. Sykes, he said, 'Your pain is greater than my pain, because even though I was in prison for 19 years you lost a daughter and I pray for you every night.'”
Dr. Carlton Eversley, another friend of Hunt’s, said he hopes Hunt's legacy lives on: the work he did with mentoring people in the community, advocating for criminal justice reform and working to help innocent people who were incarcerated find justice.
“He was a great man, he was a human being with strengths and weaknesses like any other human being,” Eversley said. “Remember his spiritual strength, both during and after his incarceration. And the determination to seek freedom and justice for all people.”
A celebration of life ceremony will be held at Mendez’s church, Emmanuel Baptist, on Saturday at 1 p.m.