December 2, 2023

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William Roy Kohler Jr. will serve 90 to 120 months in prison for his role in the shooting death of a repo man in 2015.

Kohler’s son, William Kohler III, will serve 304 to 389 months (25.33 to 32.4 years) in prison. He pleaded guilty to second degree murder and discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle. The two men pleaded guilty to second degree murder for the July 9, 2015 shooting of Jeffrey David Lowe, 37, a Robeson County man who was attempting to repossess a vehicle from the Kohlers.

William Roy Kohler III

Kohler was scheduled to go on trial Monday for the shooting, but accepted a plea Monday morning. His son pleaded guilty to second degree murder last year.

“I wish I could go back for ten minutes and change how things happened,” the senior Kohler said.

The killing occurred at the Kohlers’ Sunset Terrace home outside Whiteville. Lowe had hooked up the Kohlers’ truck and was towing the vehicle away when Kohler said he fired a shot into the woods. His son then reportedly fired several more shots into the vehicle. Lowe’s girlfriend was covered in Lowe’s blood but was uninjured. She fled the scene on foot, calling 911.

The towtruck was struck by four shots.

William Roy Kohler Jr.

Kohler told the court Monday that he thought he had worked out an arrangement with the Lumberton car dealer financing his vehicle, but the dealer sold the note to a finance company while he was in the hospital. On his return home, he told the court, he discovered a past due notice from the finance company and immediately contacted them.

He said he thought “everything was okay” until “2:30 in the morning when this happened.”

“I was allowing my son to use the vehicle as long as he kept it up and helped on the payments,” Kohler said. “I had $430 in my nightstand that I was going to give them on the Thursday after this happened.”

Kohler said his home was burglarized while he and his son were in jail, and the money stolen with other property.

The retired law enforcement officer, Marine and private security guard told Superior Court Judge Frank Jones of Wilmington that he was filled with regret over the killing.

“I am dreadfully sorry Mr. Lowe lost his life,” Kohler said. “I just wish he had knocked on the door or something.”

Lowe’s family and friends murmured when Kohler said he prayed for the survivors by name “every night,” and called the children and relatives’ names out.

“I served this great country, and I have always tried to do the right thing,” Kohler said. “There are things I don’t agree with, but there’s nothing I can do about them. I just wish he would have knocked on my door.”

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