A Durham man already facing two murder charges is now accused in a third killing: a woman found dead in a city park two years ago.
Mario Demond Blanding, 34, has been in the Durham County jail since Feb. 19, according to jail records.
He is charged with killing Antone Baines, 38, of Durham just before 6 p.m. Feb. 3, and then Corey Gooch, 40, a short time later at a different location, according to police.
In March, while in jail, Blanding also was charged with shooting a man in the leg during an attempted carjacking on Feb. 9 and robbing a One Stop Food Mart, a Family Fare and a Circle K on Feb. 17 and 18.
Blanding was indicted on a third charge of murder this week in the shooting of Nikki Bazemore, a 32-year-old mother of three. Bazemore’s family confirmed Friday that the charge was for her killing.
Around 11:15 p.m. Sept. 14, 2019, several people called 911 to report gunshots near Birchwood Park on Hursey Street in eastern Durham.
The next morning a 911 caller reported a woman unresponsive and bleeding in the park. When first responders arrived, Bazemore was dead from multiple gunshot wounds, according to a search warrant made public in February.
Blanding and Bazemore worked together at C&H Cafeteria on Guess Road, the warrant states.
Blanding told Durham police Investigator Richard Armstrong in the days after the killing that they were friends and had some romantic interactions, the search warrant states.
Blanding said he met Bazemore at the downtown McDonald’s the night she was killed and that she followed him to his house on Cushman Street in the Birchwood neighborhood, which backs up to the park.
“He said that she was at the house with him for about 15 minutes and then left at about 8 p.m,” the warrant states.
The killing occurred about seven months after Blanding was released from state prison on a 2015 attempted robbery conviction.
The new indictment comes days before what would have been Bazemore’s 34th birthday on Sunday, said her mother Yvonne Hunt.
“It’s kind of sad because I can’t call her and wish her a happy birthday,” said Hunt, 53, of Durham.
Bazemore, who graduated from Hillside High, loved to smile and was outgoing and responsible, her mother said. She worked three jobs at C&H Cafeteria, Food Lion and in security to support her son, now 15, and two girls, 10 and 11.
“She was a hard worker,” Hunt said. “She did everything she could to take care of her children.”
As the investigation extended from months to nearly two years, Hunt said she started to worry that they wouldn’t get the evidence they needed.
“I am glad they finally did,” she said.
The Durham Report
Calling Bull City readers! We’ve launched The Durham Report, a free weekly digest of some of the top stories for and about Durham published in The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. Get your newsletter delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday at 11 a.m. featuring links to stories by our local journalists. Sign up for our newsletter here. For even more Durham-focused news and conversation, join our Facebook group “The Story of my Street.”