Man who traced trail of brother's killer to Augusta dies at 68

A Rockwell, N.C., man who followed the trail of his brother’s killer to an Augusta widow with a dubious past died Monday.

After nearly 25 years of searching, Al Gentry thought he’d found the person responsible: Betty Neumar, a beautician who had left a decades-long trail of five dead husbands in five states. Among them was Gentry’s brother Harold, who was shot to death in 1986.

In January 2008, Al Gentry persuaded Stanley County Sheriff Rick Burris, then newly elected, to reopen the case. Burris said Wednesday the case is no longer active, even though it’s still open.

Neumar married Harold Gentry in January 1968. In the late 1970s, after he retired, the couple moved to Norwood, N.C., about an hour east of Charlotte.

The diminutive, white-haired grandmother who operated beauty shops, attended church and raised money for charity eventually was charged in 2008 with three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder in Harold Gentry’s death. But weeks before her 2011 trial, Neumar, 79, died of cancer.

Even after Neumar’s death, Al Gentry, who was 68 when he died, continued to press law enforcement authorities for answers.

The stress from chasing leads and pressuring police contributed to heart disease and other serious health ailments, Al Gentry’s wife, Diane, said Wednesday.

Neumar met her fifth husband, John Neumar, who died in October 2007, when she moved to Augusta.

Staff Writer Meg Mirshak contributed to this article.

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