Missing North Carolina grandmother’s remains found with help of pet duck
BUNCOMBE COUNTY, NC —A pet duck led to the discovery of a missing grandmother’s remains resulting in the arrest of the woman’s granddaughter and her husband according to an NBC News report.
Law enforcement had been searching for 92-year-old Nellie Sullivan for more than two years.
The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department announced on Facebook last week, “Detectives with the Major Case Unit at the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office have charged Mark Alan Barnes and Angela Wamsley with first-degree murder in the death of Ms. Wamsley’s grandmother, Nellie Sullivan.”
The NBC report said police believed Sullivan had been dead for several years.
“We do not have a definitive date when she was killed,” Aaron Sarver, the Buncombe County sheriff’s spokesperson told NBC News. He said the pair had been under investigation for Sullivan’s death since December 2020.
In April, WLOS of Asheville reported that a duck had made a big break in the search for Sullivan.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Walker told the station that a pet duck waddled under a trailer in Chandler. The owners found a container here that contained Sullivan’s body. NBC News confirmed the discovery.
Walker told WLOS, “Apparently, the duck ran underneath the trailer at 11 Beady Eyed Lane, and as they were chasing after their pet duck, they ran across the container that Nellie Sullivan was located in. If I could give that duck a medal, I would.”
The Sheriff’s Department Facebook post said, “Sheriff’s Office attended the autopsy of the body found last week in Candler. It was determined that the body was that of Ms. Sullivan and that probable cause existed to charge Barnes and Wamsley, who are husband and wife.”
NBC News said Wamsley and Barnes were collecting Sullivan’s Social Security and retirement benefits checks and refilling her prescriptions.
“Since the beginning of this investigation we have sought to locate Ms. Sullivan’s remains, afford her the respect she deserved, and restore dignity to the life she once lived. We are dedicated to utilizing all available science, technology, and investigative skills necessary for justice to be served in this case,” says Angie Tullis, Captain of the Criminal Investigation Division at the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office.
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