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GREENSBORO, NC (WGHP) – A man convicted in Guilford County of killing his brother-in-law for cash, a crime that became the subject of a true-crime TV episode, could be the next inmate released from prison in North Carolina.

Leroy W. Wentzel (NC DOC)

But this time the North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission, which for months has been announcing it was releasing some inmates convicted of crimes that occurred before October 1994, wants to know whether it should offer the same opportunity to Leroy W. Wentzel, who is serving life for second-degree murder plus 30 years for additional charges.

North Carolina abolished parole in some crimes as of Oct. 1, 1994, and the commission is charged with paroling offenders who were sentenced under guidelines before that date.

Wentzel was convicted on June 10, 1995, in Guilford County Superior Court, but his crimes were committed on April 25, 1991, thus placing him in the program. In addition to a life sentence for his second-degree murder charge, he also has 2 15-year sentences to be served consecutively.

One of them was 15 years for armed robbery on the same day, but he also was sentenced for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder on April 1, 1990.

Wentzel, now 79, was convicted with his wife, Shelia “Dee Dee” Wentzel, of killing their brother-in-law, Fred Brown, in High Point, at the request of his wife’s sister, Patricia Brown, the My Life of Crime blog reported.

Leroy Wentzel, the blog reported, lured Fred Brown, a professor at Guilford County Technical Community College, to a dark place on NC 68 under the premise of car trouble and then eventually shot him three times from behind, once in the back and twice in the head, as Brown tried to run away.

Wentzel was not accused of the crime but about two years later told his daughter in an open-at-death letter that he had killed Brown for $30,000 at Patricia Brown’s request. His daughter notified authorities in Pennsylvania, where Wentzel was jailed for failure to pay child support, and the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office eventually arrested him.

The Wentzels, facing first-degree murder charges, pleaded guilty to second-degree and testified against Brown. Earlier this year the case was featured in an episode of “Snapped” on the Oxygen network.

Patricia Brown was sentenced to life plus 30 years for first-degree murder, soliciting first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. She died in 2010.

Shelia Wentzel, now 66, was released in 2011 after serving 11 years of a maximum 50-year sentence on charges of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

The parole commission didn’t set a date for completing its investigation, but it said that information gathered from talking to persons involved would be used in its decision. Once that decision was made, there would be an announcement within 10 days.

MAPP program

Many of those paroled were done so under the commission’s Mutual Agreement Parole Program, a “scholastic and vocational program” that is a 3-way agreement among the commission, the Division of Prisons and the offender that requires an inmate to display a desire to improve educational and training programs and a self-improvement process. There is a 3-year walk-up to release that, the MAPP website states, requires the inmate:

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  • To be in medium or minimum custody.
  • Not to be subject to a detainer or pending court action that could result in further confinement.
  • To be infraction-free for a period of 90 days before being recommended.

It’s unclear whether Wentzel would qualify under that program, but he most recently has been housed at Southern Correctional Institute in Troy, where he has recorded 20 infractions.

Most of them were from 2014 and earlier and included fighting, weapon possession and “high-risk acts.” He had two in 2018 and 2019 for disobeying orders.

The commission is required to review all offenders eligible for parole on an annual basis. If you have questions, you can call 919-716–3010.