GREENSBORO, N.C. — The girlfriend of one of three men police say were killed by the same Greensboro man, says her boyfriend was with the suspect before he disappeared in March.
John Richardson, 53, of Greensboro is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Mark Anthony Gilbert Jr. in January, Michael Hemphill in March, and James Goolsby in April.
James Devon Goolsby, 38, was initially reported missing on March 28. His girlfriend said he left home with Richardson.
"I told him before I left for work, before they left, I told him I don’t think you should go, and he trusted anybody," said Candace Ryan, Goolsby's girlfriend.
She says the two knew each other through a mutual acquaintance.
"We have a camera, so immediately (I) knew who he had left with," said Ryan. "I’ve never personally met the man in person, but that was how I knew who he had left with, that’s when I knew something was wrong."
Ryan said the two were going to Richardson's home to get a larger grill for a cookout on March 25. She said she had never met Richardson.
"I had met his girlfriend two times (previously), but I just saw (him) from afar. I never interacted with him," said Ryan.
After the weekend, Ryan said she reported Goolsby missing.
"I knew that Saturday, something was wrong," Ryan said. "I don't ever just go without hearing from him for an entire 24 hours."
Goolsby's body was found a few weeks later in Henry County, Virginia.
"It feels so surreal still," Ryan said. "I don’t want to accept it. I don’t think anybody at this point wants to accept it. I’m used to being with this man 365, 24/7, so now I’m having to rewrite my whole life. I don’t know what I’m gonna do without him."
State prison records show John Richardson served nine years for robbery with a dangerous weapon. He's had no other felony charges since his release in 2003.
"None of these men, our families, didn’t deserve this," said Ryan. "I pray that (Richardson) never gets out. He doesn’t deserve to ever see the light of day again."
Two other murders
Richardson faces two other first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Mark Anthony Gilbert Jr. and Michael Hemphill
Hemphill, 46, of Greensboro was shot on Yanceyville Street after midnight back on Jan. 25. Officers found him conscious with serious injuries. He was taken to a hospital where he died from his injuries.
"He was everything," said Hemphill's longtime friend Corey Jones. "He was a great brother, he was a great father, he was a great uncle. He was everything you needed him to be when you needed him to be that."
Gilbert, Jr., 40, was assaulted around 1:38 a.m. back on March 10 on West Terrell Street. He later died from his injuries.
"It's been terrible," said Gilbert's ex-wife Lisa Gilbert. "Everybody is really taking it hard. Anybody who knew him (knew) he was a sweetheart. I used to call him a giant teddy bear because he was really big but had the sweetest heart."
Neither Jones nor Gilbert knows how the men connected with Richardson.