A North Carolina man now described as a “serial killer” shot and killed Nancy Rego of Charlotte and poisoned her 88-year-old mother in November 2017, according to federal prosecutors who handled the case.
Daniel Printz, a Rutherford County handyman, also killed Gaston County resident Leigh Goodman, 61, in 2018 within days of meeting her, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina says.
The remains of Rego and Goodman have not been found and likely never will be, authorities say.
“We believe — and the evidence supports — that Printz disposed of their bodies in a way in which they are unrecoverable,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Shoemake told The Charlotte Observer on Thursday.
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On Tuesday, Printz, 59, pleaded guilty in Spartanburg, S.C., federal court to kidnapping and homicide charges in connection with the August 2021 death of Edna Suttles, 80, of Travelers Rest, S.C. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In his plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Printz also acknowledged a role in the death or disappearances of Rego, Sellers and Goodman but was not charged with additional crimes.
Goodman, originally from Sarasota, Florida, lived a transient life, according to the Gaston Gazette. Neither Gaston County Police nor Gastonia Police were familiar with her, the newspaper reported.
“She was killed at (Printz’s) property in Gaston County, and there was some evidence presented in court that she lived there for some brief period,” Shoemake told the Gazette. “Given her transient nature we cannot definitively say where she lived.”
Authorities warn that Printz may have killed others. He served more than a decade in prison after being convicted in Michigan in 1997 of kidnapping a woman there.
Given the number of victims, South Carolina prosecutors could have sought the death penalty against Printz but opted for a mandatory life sentence after he agreed to cooperate with the investigation, including taking investigators to where he’d buried Suttles’ body.
At a Wednesday news conference in Greenville, S.C., Paul Davis, an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI office in South Carolina, said he hoped Printz’s confession, conviction and sentencing offered “some closure” to the families of the victims who have been trapped in a “continuous nightmare, spending every day wondering what happened” to their loved ones.
Social Security checks
The additional details of Printz’s killings do cast new light on the 5-year-old riddle of how Rego, 66, a longtime Charlotte massage therapist, disappeared five years ago on the very day her mother, Dolores Sellers, died.
According to prosecutors, Sellers died on Nov. 8, 2017, after Printz gave her a lethal dose of prescription medication.
Investigators say Rego was dating Printz at the time of her disappearance and had signed over her power of attorney to him in September 2017. According to investigators, she was shot and killed two months later.
After she vanished, her family members texted and emailed with a person who purported to be Rego but refused to meet or speak with them, an FBI affidavit claims.
An additional affidavit accompanying Printz’s criminal complaint alleges he collected Rego’s Social Security check for years until his arrest last September in connection with Suttles’ disappearance.
Suttles was last seen alive in late August, meeting with Printz outside a grocery store in Travelers Rest then driving away after he got into her car.
Her body was found in May after Printz led investigators to her makeshift grave in rural Rutherford County. She too had been given a lethal dose of medication, prosecutors say. An FBI affidavit says Printz may also have used a plastic bag to suffocate her.
During a September 2021 raid on Printz’s home as part of the Suttles’ investigation, detectives with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office discovered Rego’s driver’s license and passport. After Printz’s arrest that day, Rego’s debit card was found in his wallet.
No alarm bells
The ties between Printz and the missing Rego first became public four years earlier when her car was involved in a June 2018 wreck. Printz was behind the wheel. The vehicle was towed, never picked up and eventually auctioned.
A subsequent search of Printz’s residence by the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 23 found even more links to Rego, including bank statements, credit cards, prescription medication, and a wallet belonging to her mother, court records show.
On Oct. 9, Suttles’ hand bag, car keys and other personal effects were discovered in a bee box on Printz’s property in the small Rutherford County town of Bostic.
In an Oct. 13 interview with investigators in which he said he wanted to “purge himself” of his sins, Printz hinted at multiple killings, according to a FBI affidavit unsealed in March.
In one example, Printz said he “hypothetically” helped a friend euthanize a family member, then apparently killed the friend when the friend had feelings of remorse and was going "to tell."
During the same interrogation, Printz spoke of another friend whom he tried to help who also ended up dying. Printz disposed of the body so he could collect the friend’s Social Security, the affidavit says.
Asked if Printz was referring to Rego in either instance, Shoemake referred the Observer to the public court documents in the case.
Lisa Jones, who teaches college history in Charlotte and who knew Rego for 20 years, wonders why it took authorities so long to look into her friend’s disappearance.
“Her car was in an accident (four years ago) and no alarm bells went off?” the former South Carolina probation and parole officer told the Observer last month. “Did any part of law enforcement even know she was missing?”
The first missing person’s report on Rego appears to have been issued last September, immediately after investigators found her personal items at Printz’s home but almost four years after she disappeared.