College employee, accused killer struggled after suicides

Volusia County Jail/ MGN

GOLDSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Ron Lane was a 44-year-old gay man who worked for Wayne Community College for 18 years, most recently as the school’s print shop director.

Kenneth Morgan Stancil III was a 20-year-old welding student who tattooed a neo-Nazi symbol on his face and was angry because he had been dismissed from his campus work-study job with Lane due to absenteeism.

Lane and Stancil were linked – whether they knew it or not – by the suicides of people very close to them. Lane’s partner of 12 years killed himself last year. Stancil’s mother says her son never recovered after finding his father in the backyard after he had killed himself in 2009.

Debbie Stancil told The Associated Press her son also was angry when he was dismissed from his campus job in Lane’s print shop, and that he had told her Lane, his supervisor, had made unwanted sexual comments to him.

Stancil entered the print shop on the third floor of a campus building Monday morning and shot Lane once with a pistol-grip shotgun, police said. The shooting sparked a campus-wide lockdown and officers stormed the building looking for Stancil, who fled on a motorcycle.

“Mr. Stancil had a calculated plan,” Goldsboro police Sgt. Jeremy Sutton said.

But Debbie Stancil saw it differently.

“He had a moment of insanity. I don’t know. He just snapped. That is not my son,” she said. “He’s probably out of his mind. I think he needs mental help.”

Stancil was arrested without incident early Tuesday while sleeping on a Florida beach, about 500 miles from the Goldsboro college. Stancil made his first court appearance later in the day in Daytona Beach, Florida, saying in a profanity-laced and unsubstantiated tirade that the man he killed had molested a relative.

The judge denied bond and appointed a public defender.

Debbie Stancil said she knows the relative was not sexually abused by Lane, as Kenneth Stancil claimed in court, because the relative and Lane had never met. She believes Kenneth Stancil is making the accusations because he is “rattled and confused.”

Police have not released a motive in the shooting.

Stancil’s mother said Lane made sexually laced comments to her son.

“He was verbally inappropriate with Morgan at school. Very much verbally inappropriate,” she said. “He would tell him to stop and he kept on.”

Lane’s brother and sister declined to comment when reached by the AP. College spokeswoman Tara Humphries said she did not know whether any complaints had been lodged against Lane.

It wasn’t clear how long Lane and Stancil had worked together. Stancil was due to graduate from his three-semester-degree course this summer, but he had been a continuing education student before that, Humphries said.

Brent Hood, coordinator of education support technology at the college, was Lane’s supervisor for the past three years. He said he didn’t think Lane was killed because he was gay. But Lane was in mourning when his partner disappeared in July and then when his remains were found months later, Hood said. Police said Chuck Tobin killed himself. Lane insisted that Tobin be described as his long-term partner in an email Hood sent to other staffers announcing the discovery.

“The administration was a little concerned. But Ron wanted it to be said that way,” Hood said. Lane was “comfortable in his own skin, like he had no cares in the world.”

Kenneth Stancil had no criminal record before the shooting. He was on the school’s dean’s list with a grade point average of 3.6 or better and due to graduate in July with a degree in welding technology, the school said. He was a Boy Scout who wrote in the letter he left explaining his deed that he still hoped to marry his girlfriend, his mother said.

But the same six-page letter turned over to homicide investigators explained that Stancil never got over finding his father’s body in 2009, Debbie Stancil said.

Kenneth Stancil also took an interest in changing his appearance by giving himself tattoos. He gave himself a facial tattoo last weekend that included the number “88” on his left cheek. Experts who track hate groups said the number is a neo-Nazi code for praising Adolf Hitler. Neo-Nazis have often been accused of attacking gays, said Mark Potok, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

Police have not said whether Stancil held white supremacist beliefs or what hate crime they are investigating. Stancil’s mother said the tattoo marked a wannabe rather than someone with neo-Nazi beliefs.

Goldsboro police and the Wayne County district attorney’s office will work to have Stancil extradited to North Carolina to face a murder charge.

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