SANFORD, N.C. — Investigators are getting closer to making an arrest in the death of a local preacher's wife.
A preliminary autopsy suggests that Marnita Bynum died of strangulation. Bynum, a substitute teacher, was the wife of the Rev. Melvin Bynum, pastor of Cry Out Loud Ministry in Sanford.
According to investigators, deputies spotted Marnita Bynum's car abandoned along a rural road about 4 a.m. Sunday. A deputy came by to check on the car Monday morning and realized something was wrong.
"The deputy went behind the car, and as he went behind the car, he could smell the odor, so he called for assistance," Richmond County Sheriff Dale Furr said.
Investigators believe Marnita Bynum died sometime Saturday night.
Deputies searched the Bynums' home and questioned Melvin Bynum. They said she already was dead when her husband explained her absence at Sunday services by saying she was home sick. They are not calling him a suspect.
Investigators said they expect to make an arrest in the next few days.
Church members, friends and family gathered Wedneday to mourn Marnita Bynum's death. Bynum's funeral will take place in Sanford. Arrangements have not yet been set.