ROCKWELL, NC – Al Gentry is running out of time to find his brother's killer.
After years of chasing leads, he thought he'd found the person responsible for the 1986 murder — an elderly Georgia widow who was married to his brother and left a decades-long trail of five dead husbands in five states.
Betty Neumar was charged in 2008 with three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder in the death of Harold Gentry.
But weeks before her trial in 2011, Neumar, 79, died of cancer.
That hasn't stopped Gentry from continuing to press law enforcement authorities for answers. But the stress of living years with the case has taken a toll. In the last year, Gentry's had a heart attack and a stroke, and is tethered to a portable oxygen tank.
"The question I have is, who killed my brother?" said Gentry, 67, of Rockwell, N.C. "That person is still out there. I'm going to fight to my last breath until I find out who killed him."
Stanly County Sheriff Rick Burris said the case is no longer active, even though it's still open.
"We're really at a dead end," Burris said.
Gentry spent much of his adult life pushing law enforcement authorities to solve the slaying. He always believed that Neumar — a diminutive Georgia grandmother with a shock of white hair who operated beauty shops, attended church and raised money for charity — was responsible. The case was finally reopened in January 2008 after he asked Burris, then the newly elected sheriff, to look into it.
When investigators did, they found Neumar's trail of dark secrets.
Authorities discovered Neumar had been married five times since the 1950s and each union ended in her husband's death. Investigators in three states reopened several of the cases but have since closed them.