Cops had come to a standstill in a search to find a missing grandmother but finally located the body of the missing woman and were able to charge two suspects with her murder thanks to the help of a quackingly clever duck.
The Buncombe County Sherriff’s Office had been attempting to find 90-year-old Nellie Sullivan since December 2020, immediately declaring the circumstances around the case as “suspicious” and expecting foul play – pardon the pun!
“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,” said Angie Tullis, captain of the Criminal Investigations Division.
“We are dedicated to utilizing all available science, technology, and investigative skills necessary for justice to be served in this case.”
Cops searched numerous locations for any sign of Nellie, but always came up with a blank, although it was noted that a pair of known criminals had continued to collect Nellie’s benefit checks and had picked up her repeat prescriptions – indicating they had some involvement in her disappearance:
Angela Wamsley, 46, and Mark Barnes, 50, who police discovered were collecting Nellie’s benefit money were charged with a string of convictions early in the investigation including animal cruelty, unlawfully reconnecting a utility, animal abandonment and synthetic cannabinoid possession.
In March 2021, the pair of career criminals faced further charges of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, trafficking heroin and felony conspiracy.
Despite the North Carolina couple’s proven connection to the case, police were unable to charge the pair with murder or take the investigation any further without locating Nellie. At one point during questioning, Barnes hinted at a location where the grandmother’s body might be found, but the search of the area drew another blank.
Pet Duck Leads Police to Murder Victim and Elusive Clues: 'If I Could Give That Duck a Medal, I Would'
Officials haven't determined when or how Nellie Sullivan, who was in her 90s, was killedhttps://t.co/mUvKkl8bdG pic.twitter.com/LsalcRfvuP
— Holly Quinn (@HollyQu47705450) April 27, 2022
But after months of unsuccessful searching, the investigation finally came to a close on April 14, when an unruly pet duck escaped its enclosure and waddled under a trailer in Candler, NC.
As the owners attempted to catch their feathery friend, they came across poor Nellie’s body which had been dumped in a container.
Nellie had dementia and some health issues, but the disposal of her body is a clear indicator that someone had either killed her or attempted to hide her remains. An anthropologist is working to determine the exact cause of Nellie’s death and how long ago she met her demise.
Following the discovery of the body, Barnes and Wamsley were finally charged with “concealing a death”, with the sheriff’s office adding that Wamsley had received further charges relating to an “assault with a deadly weapon on a Detention Officer at the Buncombe County Detention Facility in January of 2021.”
The pair are being held without bond and so far it’s unclear whether either has answered the charges against them.
Meanwhile, the duck has been hailed a hero by cops:
“If I could give that duck a medal, I would,” Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Mark Walker told WLOS News 13.
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