On the afternoon of 24 March 1916, Wilson chief of police John A. Wiggs approached two black men foraging for old bottles in a trash pile near the city cemetery. Before long, one man lay dead in the street.
Newspapers across North Carolina picked up the story immediately, reporting it with varying degrees of detail.
Wilmington Morning Star, 25 March 1916.
Concord Times (Concord, N.C.), 27 March 1916.
Western Sentinel (Winston-Salem, N.C.), 28 March 1916.
After a few days, the Everything, a newspaper published in Greensboro, offered a tentative assessment.
Everything (Greensboro, N.C.), 1 April 1916.
Four months later, Wiggs went to trial. The verdict: Not guilty.
Salisbury Evening Post, 7 September 1916.
Phillip Worth seems to have been a newcomer to Wilson and to have had no one in town who knew him well. His death certificate contains little information (not even that he may have been from Alamance County) beyond his cause of death: “bullet wound in heart from pistol in hands of officer of law.”