Who Killed Beth-Ellen Vinson? Dancer’s Murder Still a Mystery

There have never been any arrests or leads in the 1994 cold case.

Verity Partington
4 min readAug 14


Beth-Ellen Vinson, murdered in 1994 (Image: FBI)

It was 1994, and Beth-Ellen Vinson was a 17-year-old girl from small-town North Carolina who had dreams of making it big.

She was a talented dancer and the shows she had entered so far in her young life were not fulfilling her passion — instead, she wanted to go all the way to Broadway.

“I remember the little girl who was pretty much the light of our family, and the excitement she showed when she entered dance competitions,” her uncle Russell Vinson told ABC 11.

But Beth-Ellen knew it was rare to get all the way from the south-eastern US to the Big Apple in one fell swoop, particularly if you weren’t flush with cash, so she decided to take a stepping stone on her way up the career ladder.

She decided she would move to Raleigh with her boyfriend and make money any way she could, dancing in any way possible to gain experience. And at that time, Beth-Ellen realised that the best way to make a living was by working as a private dancer for an escort service.

In the early hours of August 16th 1994, six weeks after she had made her move to Raleigh, Beth-Ellen got a call from her employer matching her with a client. She left her apartment near North Carolina State University and headed for the Innkeeper Motel off Capital Boulevard.

However, she never made it. Three hours later, there was an ominous discovery in front of a car dealership on Capital Boulevard. Beth-Ellen’s white Mazda sat idling by the side of the road, with the radio still playing and one of her shoes sitting by itself in the driver’s side footwell.

It was another week before everyone’s worst fears were confirmed. A factory worker found Beth-Ellen’s body in a ditch between two warehouses by Atlantic Avenue. She had been stabbed in excess of 15 times and covered with a piece of cardboard.

Police began a murder investigation and questioned Beth-Ellen’s boyfriend right away. Although he is reported to have failed a polygraph test, detectives put this down to the stress he was under and released him without charge.



Verity Partington

A writer and author of crime thrillers living in the UK. Partial to books, stationery, papercrafts and walking. You can find her books on Amazon here: https://a