Officer James William Nunalee, Sr.

Officer James William Nunalee, Sr.

Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina

End of Watch Tuesday, April 4, 1978

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James William Nunalee, Sr.

Officer James Nunalee was ambushed and killed as he exited a convenience store. He had just signed the log book in the store and was leaving when two masked men opened fire on him, striking him 21 times with a semi-automatic rifle. The two then stole his service revolver and fled.

Although police suspected a particular husband and wife team of the robbery/murder, there was never enough evidence to arrest them. The case remained unsolved for 24 years, until the suspects' son, who was in prison on drug and weapons charges, came forward to tell Wilmington police that his parents were responsible for Officer Nunaleeā€™s murder. That statement, along with other evidence collected over the years, led police to finally close the case. Investigators believe the husband shot Officer Nunalee as his wife stood by, refusing to shoot.

Officer Nunalee was survived by his wife and son.


  • Age 24
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Rifle; M-16
  • Offender Case never solved

Most Recent Reflection

View all 26 Reflections

It is amazing and awe-inspiring to see the many heart-felt commemorations to Officer William Nunalee over this span of years. He was a good friend to me in Chestnut Junior High and New Hanover High School. We had many classes together, including
band and JROTC. He was my best friend and hunting/fishing companion in those wonderful days! I joined the US Army and he joined the WPD. I was heartbroken at the news of his murder. I drive by his memorial park when I come to town and pay my respects to a wonderful man/friend/father and husband. I will be coming back to Wilmington this week (maybe for the last time) for my mother's memorial service and will again pay my respects to Billy...until we meet on the other side! Maybe we can play our bugles again like we did in the JROTC Drum and Bugle Corps (1970-'72)!

Robert H Johnson, III
Best friend in High School (NHHS)

December 15, 2021

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