Local News

Police Hope New Information Will Shed Light On Missing Durham Cellist Case

Posted February 7, 2003
Updated December 10, 2006

— Police hope new information may shed more light on the disappearance of a Durham cellist.

Robert Petrick told police he was at the James Joyce pub until 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. the night his wife, Janine Sutphen, disappeared. Police said those times "were not consistent" with accounts from other customers.

Petrick remains in the Durham County Jail on fraud charges. Investigators said he tried to cash bogus checks totaling more than $48,000. Police said the charges are related to his wife's case, which is now being investigated as a homicide.

A Durham police search warrant also gives details about what was found after a five-day search of couple's townhouse.

Among the items seized by police, a videotape of the 1938 Hitchcock movie "The Lady Vanishes." The movie is about a woman who is kidnapped.

Police also seized gloves, knives, saws, a shovel, a bolt cutter and duct tape, bedsheets, cameras, film, seven computers and related hardware. In the same room with the computers, police found two whips. Police also seized Petrick's car.

Sutphen, 57, has been missing since Jan. 22, when she failed to show up for a rehearsal with the Durham Symphony. Her car was found in a parking deck across the street from the Durham Arts Center; her cello was in the car.

In an affadavit, Sutphen's three sons, who live out of state, complained that Petrick would not let them talk to their mother on the phone between Jan. 5 and Jan. 7. One son said Petrick told him his mother was "sick" or "asleep in bed."

Two weeks later, Petrick reported his wife missing.

Durham police also want to interview a woman who they believe had a close relationship with Petrick.

Police said Phaedra Oorbeck moved to the Emerald Forest Apartments in Durham from Illinois days before Sutphen vanished. Oorbeck reportedly had a relationship with Petrick since the late 1980s. Authorities said Oorbeck and Petrick were joined in a pagan ceremony in 1995.

Oorbeck is not considered a suspect, but police said they want to question her about Sutphen's disappearance.


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