One afternoon in 2014, Charity Thomas and her boyfriend, Maurice “Boss” Hagler, found themselves being followed by a strange car as they drove across High Point.
Thomas and Hagler operated Kenzie’s Event Center, a venue on Brentwood Street in High Point named after Thomas’ daughter that functioned as a nightclub while also hosting weddings and children’s birthday parties, and Hagler often helped Thomas at a clothing store she owned. When Thomas and Hagler eventually stopped at the clothing store, the occupants of the car approached them and identified themselves as a criminal defense attorney and private detective. The lawyer was representing Nathan “Goodfoot” Wilson, who was charged in the murder of Gerald Williamson, who was killed at Kenzie’s in the early morning hours of Feb. 28. Thomas had made the 911 call to report the murder and was presumably one of the few reliable witnesses on the scene.
“They were asking if the witnesses that had given information against him were present in the club; we didn’t know,” Thomas recalled. “We didn’t see him do it. When I explained that to them, they could see that me and him wasn’t any help to them. Maurice didn’t have anything to tell. We didn’t see him do it. We didn’t see him with the gun.”
Months later, on a Friday in December, Thomas picked Hagler up after a work shift. They had plans to have dinner together at Golden Corral, and then Thomas would drop him off at his house while she worked a couple hours at the clothing store. Afterwards, the two of them planned to go to Walmart to take care of some Christmas shopping.
As they rode together to the restaurant, Thomas could tell that Hagler was worried about something, but he wouldn’t tell her what it was. He told her it was nothing and turned up the music — Frankie Beverly & Maze — and the couple sang along. At the restaurant, they talked.
“He told me I was his best friend,” Thomas recalled. “We always joked about it — I would tell him, ‘You don’t have any friends.’ It made me smile so much. I laughed, and we held hands and walked out together.”
Just before dropping Maurice off at his house on Wise Avenue, Charity told him: “Have a good day. I love you.” Maurice smiled back at her.
While he waited for Charity to return, Maurice opened his house to five visitors — acquaintances from the neighborhood. Just before 10 p.m., two other men battered down the back door. According to one of the guests, who spoke to Triad City Beat on condition of anonymity, one of the men yelled, “Where’s the money?” before shooting Hagler in the torso. The guest said she picked up someone’s cell phone and called 911, and then observed with disbelief that the other guests were grabbing Hagler’s belongings and fleeing the house. Hagler was pronounced dead after being rushed to the hospital.
Audria McIntyre, Hagler’s mother, said four people who had been at the house before the break-in stole cash out of her son’s pocket after he was shot, along with clothes, baseball cards and a suitcase full of vinyl records.
“I guess he thought he knew them pretty well to invite them over there,” McIntyre said. “They evidently weren’t his friends.”
Much of the information that has come out about Hagler’s murder amounts to little more than rumor.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous that there were five people in the house, not to mention the two people that came in the house, and no one can say what happened,” Thomas said. “Everybody’s story is different. One person upped and moved to Virginia. We asked the police: ‘Do you know where they are?’ They said, ‘We don’t know where they are.’ They said, ‘We went and talked to someone when they were in jail.’ It’s constant BS. It’s unfair to us.”
Thomas doesn’t know who killed her boyfriend, but she’s certain that the people who were with him that night know something that they’re not sharing with the police.
“How can someone come in the house with nothing on their face and no one can tell you nothing? The two guys in the house, they were from the neighborhood that he was trying to help. Me and Maurice took one of the guy’s daughters to church. Two or three days after Maurice died, he up and left. He’s making videos about [the murder].”
Thomas does not connect the crime against her boyfriend to the murder of Gerald Williamson at Kenzie’s Event Center earlier that year.
“Definitely to take what was in the house — money and things that were found in the house,” she said, describing what she said is the most likely motive. “I asked that myself: ‘Lord, I just want to know.’ I can’t even say. I don’t really know. I really would love to know.”
More than two years have passed since Hagler’s death, and Thomas said she still hasn’t gotten used to the fact that he’s gone. He was like a father to McKenzie, who was 8 at the time of his death.
“I’m still in mourning,” Thomas said. “I still have my days when I cry out loud. It hasn’t changed. It’s like he’s on a long vacation. My daughter said, ‘It seems like he’s still going to walk in the house.’
“Man, they just don’t know what they took,” Thomas said. “They took someone that was really special.”
McIntyre, his mother, said that she wants the closure that would come from someone being charged in her son’s murder, although a trial would bring up painful feelings.
“I probably won’t understand it, but at least give me clarity,” she said. “Why would you do it? Your life changed, and definitely Boss’ life changed. Who are you? Who are your parents? Who raised you? How can you walk away like you threw something in the trashcan? I’m scared for you because sooner or later the coin will flip. This family keeps praying. We gonna be all right. I can hear Boss saying: ‘We gonna be all right.’”
While expressing hope that those responsible for her son’s death will turn themselves in, McIntyre said, “I have to forgive them for me. If I don’t forgive them, I’m gonna go down a bad road.”
Thomas said that before her boyfriend was killed, she would cry when she saw Gerald Williamson’s daughter at church, and she said she told Hagler she didn’t ever want to have to go through what Williamson’s girlfriend experienced.
If anyone thinks the two murders are connected, Thomas said, “Let it be known that just as much as I want justice for Maurice, I want it for Gerald as well.
“I just pray to God that one day we will get some type of justice,” she said. “I pray for it every day: God help us and give us strength. My heart goes out to Gerald’s family. I pray that we get the justice we deserve.”
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