Local News

Authorities: Wreck didn't kill Spring Lake man, wife did

Posted July 30, 2013
Updated July 31, 2013

— Suspicious family members and a keen-eyed mortician led to a Harnett County woman being charged with killing her husband.

David Lokeith Worley, 39, of Docs Road in Spring Lake, was involved in a single-car crash on July 19. The State Highway Patrol said he was speeding on Ray Road, about 16 miles south of Lillington, when he ran off the left side of the road, and he was thrown from the car as it flipped several times.

Vernon Peterson of Unity Funeral Home told authorities that he found what appeared to be stab wounds on Worley's back as he prepared the body for burial, Harnett County investigators stated in an affidavit for a search warrant. The body was then sent to a medical examiner for an autopsy.

"We all were in agreement that this was something a lot bigger than a traffic accident," Peterson said Tuesday. "There are wounds that I think about with an accident, but these wounds that we saw were not consistent with damages from an automobile accident."

Highway Patrol officials said the standard protocol is for a medical examiner to transport any fatality in a vehicle crash to a hospital or morgue before the body goes to the funeral home.

In fact, county investigators looked over Worley's body at Betsy Johnson Hospital, thinking he might be linked to a crime earlier in the day where a suspect had been shot at and fled. In their search for gunshot wounds, those investigators did not find the stab wounds. 

Family members had also told a worker at the funeral home to check for possible wounds because Worley had been in a fight with his wife shortly before he died and that she had stabbed him, according to the affidavit.

Mortician's discovery leads to murder charge Mortician's discovery leads to murder charge

The medical examiner determined that Worley had been stabbed with an 8-inch butcher knife and that one of the wounds had punctured a lung, the affidavit states. He told investigators that the wound was the cause of his death, as it would have caused Worley to lose control of his motor skills within an hour, according to the affidavit.

Investigators found Toni Marsha Talley in the process of moving out of the couple's Spring Lake home and asked her to go to the Harnett County Sheriff's Office to discuss Worley's death. There, they noticed her gold fingernail polish was similar to gold flecks found on a blood-soaked shirt found in Worley's wrecked car.

The search warrant was to obtain samples of Talley's nail polish for comparison to the flecks.

Talley, 32, was charged last week with first-degree murder in Worley's death. She was released from the Harnett County jail Tuesday after posting a $200,000 bond.

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  • Alexia Jul 31, 2013

    I am struggling with the murder charge. Attempted murder, perhaps, but perhaps she stabbed him because he punched her in the face? Was this a one-sided fight? His death was due to the car accident. What caused the car accident might be the stab wound, but had he called 911 and received medical attention, he likely would not have died. So why did he not call 911?

  • lisaclark2 Jul 31, 2013

    How do they know the wreck didn't kill him after all he was driving. Strange they can now say the wreck didn't kill him, but couldn't tell he had been stab. Was there any blood?

  • thepeopleschamp Jul 31, 2013

    Those of you who recieved training from CSI Miami know this, a stab wound can sometimes appear to be nothing more than a minor scratch, it doesn't have to be a huge gushing wound like is portrayed on tv. Even an Med Ex could look right at it and not know it is a stab wound. These investigators are not doctors that disect bodies looking for internal injuries. Now, you may return to watching CSI shows and being experts on something you've never done.

  • joeBob Jul 31, 2013

    "...(Harnet) county investigators looked over Worley's body at Betsy Johnson Hospital, thinking he might be linked to a crime earlier in the day where a suspect had been shot at and fled. In their search for gunshot wounds, those investigators did not find the stab wounds."

    those "investigators" might want to take a refresher course on forensics.

  • Whiskey4one Jul 31, 2013

    Z Man - you must not work for the government then

  • Z Man Jul 31, 2013

    "In their search for gunshot wounds, those investigators did not find the stab wounds." Really? If I did my job as bad as they are doing theirs, I'd not have a job!

  • Wags Jul 31, 2013

    At least she had the $200 grand laying around to post bail. She'll probably be gone soon.

  • Holy Carp. Jul 31, 2013

    "Yep. Completely inept. The whole organization needs to be eliminated." Hans

    Why do you constantly have so much hatred towards Law Enforcement? This has nothing to do with lack of investigation under NCSHP. They treated it as a wreck. The cororner/me was the one that got it wrong. Stop spewing LEO hate as you typically do.

  • jockeyshiftspringer Jul 31, 2013

    Wral quote: "In their search for gunshot wounds, those investigators did not find the stab wounds."

    Wow, sounds like a great place to save the taxpayers some monies. Do half the work, get half the pay. Pretty sad.

  • jaydosse Jul 31, 2013

    No denying that the murder rate in this state is very high. Lots of violent miscreants. The question is: What is behind this expression of love???

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