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.
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.
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.