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Suspected Panama serial killer once lived in western N.C.

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SHELBY, N.C. -- New information uncovered about a suspected serial killer with as many as seven possible victims in Panama leads back to North Carolina.

Foreign authorities arrested William Holbert last week in Central America. He once made his home in the mountains of North Carolina and five years ago rented a home in Cleveland County.

According to a letter written from Holbert to his wife, Ryan, he was a leader of a radical group called the Southern National Patriots. The letter was found by a former landlord crumbled up in a pile of junk.

The woman says Holbert and his girlfriend stayed in her secluded, hilltop home for four or five months before he moved out. Not long after, she started noticing his name popping up in news reports and most wanted lists for his affiliation with the group and for a multi-state stealing and fraud campaign.

Investigators say Holbert fled overseas and laid low for a while. He is linked to a handful of deaths in Panama, and after an international manhunt, he was captured trying to cross the San Juan River near Nicaragua last week.

Prosecutors in Panama say Holbert admits to killing five Americans in that country so he could take over their assets.

District attorney Jon David says Holbert is wanted in Brunswick County for selling an Oak Island home he didn't own for $200,000.

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