Includes video report
Motive behind killing unknown
By Kate Northrop
SHALLOTTE, N.C. — Three years ago, Michael Todd Hill, 52, struck it big after winning $10 million from a scratch-off lottery ticket. Now, he is being charged with the murder of a 23-year-old woman, Keonna Graham.
Back in 2017, Hill, of Leland, North Carolina, worked in a nuclear plant. A dedicated scratch-off player, he frequented the Maco Depot convenience store and bought the fateful Ultimate Millions scratch-off ticket. His life looked like it was instantly changed for the better when he won a top prize of $10 million.
"I have a strategy when it comes to scratching," Hill said in a North Carolina Education Lottery news release. "I start with the corners. When I got to the dollar symbol, I knew I won something. I saw the one and then the zero, and it still didn't hit me. But then I saw the 'M.' My heart dropped down to my toes and I lost my breath."
Hill ended up choosing the lump sum option and took over $4 million after taxes.
Employees at the gas station next to the convenience store said that he visited often and truly seemed like a nice person. After he won the lottery, he returned to the store to give $2,000 to the woman who sold him the winning ticket.
They were not expecting to find out three years later that he was arrested for murder.
Hill had checked into the Sure Stay Hotel in Shallotte, North Carolina alone on Sunday according to the hotel manager, Vee Patel. None of the staff at the hotel saw Graham at any point during his stay. Hill was scheduled to check out of the hotel the next day by 11 am. After his scheduled time had passed without a checkout, housekeeping knocked on Hill's door repeatedly to clean the room but received no response.
It was upon entering the room that they discovered Graham's lifeless body. They called 911 as soon as they realized she was unconscious, but they were sadly unable to revive her.
The housekeeper who discovered the crime scene is reportedly taking some time off.
Hill was arrested Tuesday with few other known details about the murder and is currently being held without bond in the Brunswick County Detention Center. According to the police, Hill was involved in an "on-and-off" relationship with Graham.
Prior to his arrest, Hill has been convicted of multiple crimes in the late 80's and early 90's, including felony and misdemeanor breaking and entering, breaking and entering vehicles, larceny over $200, receiving stolen goods, worthless check (issuing a check with insufficient funds), and armed robbery.
"I think it's horrible," Tiffany Wilson, an acquaintance of Graham's said. "I mean, he just won the lottery. I heard he just got married and you go and kill a young girl? A beautiful girl? I don't understand."
"All that money and you are seducing a young girl to go into a hotel?" she added. "I don't know what the situation is, but you had no business being in a hotel with her."
Graham was a correctional officer at a prison in Burgaw, North Carolina. She also worked at a local rehabilitation center to help those who are mentally disabled. Her hobbies included hiking and riding bicycles.
"She did all of this like it was second nature to her," Antoinette Lee, Graham's cousin, said of her. "We are hurting. We are in pain. Our family is devastated."
Graham was also remembered for being adventurous and generous toward others.
"She was very loved, and she's very beautiful," Wilson said.
VIDEO: Watch the report