SANFORD, N.C. — According to court records, a Lee County preacher whose wife was strangled was having marital problems.
Melvin Bynum filed for divorce a few months ago. A judge was set to rule on that divorce two weeks from now. Bynum's wife, Marnita, was found strangled in the trunk of her car last week.
According to court records, Melvin Bynum filed for divorce in June. He did not give a reason, just saying the couple had lived apart for more than a year.
The couple had been married for 19 years, but they may have been separated for almost three years. In his court documents, Melvin Bynum said the couple broke up in September 2001 and stopped living together in October 2001.
People saw the Bynums as a happy couple involved in the community, pursuing a vision for their church, Cry Out Loud Ministry.
"They presented themselves well physically. They dressed well. They spoke well. They looked good together," resident Alexander Brower said.
Brower said he heard rumors about divorce, but not until recently.
"It was a rumor after the woman was killed. It wasn't a rumor before," he said.
Investigators are interviewing witnesses and waiting on lab results. So far, they have not named any suspects. Officers questioned Melvin Bynum and searched his home, but they have not made any conclusions public.
While the divorce papers suggest the Bynums were not living under the same roof, investigators believe the Bynums were still living as husband and wife. People who knew the couple say they are not sure which is correct, but they did see the Bynums attend church together.