DOBSON — More charges have been filed in a July murder case against two people previously implicated in the death of Nathan Cory Atkins of Mount Airy, Surry County Sheriff Jimmy Combs announced Wednesday.
This includes two additional felony offenses against Matthew Ray Lawson, 29, of Soldier Lane in Ararat, who already had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Atkins, 27. The victim’s body was found in the remains of his residence on Starr Memory Trail just north of the Mount Airy city limits after a fire there on the morning of July 24.
Lawson is now facing violations of first-degree arson and robbery with a dangerous weapon.
Charges also have upgraded against Candace Leigh Lowe, 31, of 349 Hamlin Ford Road, Dobson, who was arrested along with Lawson in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, three days after Atkins’ death.
The Surry County Sheriff’s Office initially issued a warrant for Lowe’s arrest on a charge of felony accessory after the fact to the murder. But Wednesday’s update by Combs shows she is now facing the same charges as Lawson: first-degree murder, first-degree arson and robbery with a dangerous weapon. Lowe remains charged as an accessory, court records show.
Along with suggesting that Lowe allegedly played a more active role in the incident involving the death of Atkins than initially suspected, the upgraded charges have injected the elements of robbery into the case along with arson.
However, Sheriff Combs declined Wednesday to elaborate on what led to those offenses being issued.
“I can’t comment any further,” Combs said, explaining that he wanted to avoid releasing more details that might jeopardize the prosecution of Lawson and Lowe.
The sheriff had said in the days right after Atkins’ death that other charges were pending in the murder probe that was still in its early stages with evidence to be evaluated and interviews conducted. Combs also indicated that the full scope of Lawson’s and Lowe’s alleged wrongdoing would be determined through consultations with the local district attorney’s office.
Both suspects were served with warrants on the updated charges in the wake of their recent extradition from Myrtle Beach to the Surry County Detention Center.
Since their return, the two also have had a first-appearance court hearing before Judge Spencer Key Jr., who stipulated that Lawson and Lowe would be jailed without privilege of bond pending trial. They are scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Sept. 7.
Sheriff Combs said Wednesday that the murder suspects were being held among the regular inmate population with no special provisions involved.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.