Local News

Husband Charged With Murder Of Durham Cellist

Posted May 30, 2003

— Robert Petrick is in the Durham County jail without bond after authorities charged him with the death of his wife, Janine Sutphen.

Sutphen, 57, a cellist with the Durham Symphony, was reported missing by Petrick at 3:13 a.m., Jan. 22. He told officers he had last seen her around 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 21, when she left home to go to the Durham Arts Council.

After conducting an autopsy, authorities have confirmed the body found Thursday in Falls Lake is that of Sutphen. Hours after the autopsy, Petrick was charged with murder.

"We felt strongly that we needed to locate her in order to proceed for a variety of reasons which I can't get into," district attorney Jim Hardin said.

The Wake County Sheriff's Office said two fishermen came across Sutphen's body near the Cheek Road Bridge just before noon Thursday. Her body was covered with a green tarp and duct tape. Sutphen's legs were reportedly tied up with chains.

Friends of Sutphen said Friday's news was something that they did not want to hear.

"It's hard to imagine anyone who would stand in front of a preacher and promises to share their life with someone would commit such a violence on their life partner," said Ellen Dagenhart, Sutphen's friend.

Hours after the body was found, Petrick was arrested by authorities on more fraud charges. He was reportedly arrested on a charge of using false information to obtain a North Carolina driver's license. He appeared in court Friday morning and was released on a $1,000 unsecured bond.

Police say they had Petrick under surveillance for most of Thursday.

Police searched the area surrounding Sutphen's home for days following her disappearance, but found no clues. Authorities later arrested Petrick on 11 fraud charges they said were related to her disappearance. He was later released on bond.

In a jailhouse interview, Petrick told WRAL that he did not kill his wife. Friends who knew the couple say Petrick seemed to be a caring husband.

"Sometimes, you only see what people choose to show you and I suppose we didn't really know him," Dagenhart said.

The two fishermen who found Sutphen's body may share the reward money which, between Crimestoppers and the money put up by fellow symphony members, could total more than $3,000.

Officials say the case will go before a grand jury on Monday.


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