Local News

Police: Wilson Professor Suffocated

Posted December 7, 2004

— Investigators in Wilson released new information about the suspicious death of a Barton College art professor.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, Wilson police said 49-year-old Paula Patterson suffocated to death. They are not looking for a suspect, but have not closed their investigation pending results of toxicology reports, which could take several weeks.

Patterson's body was found alone inside her home art studio on West Nash Street last Tuesday. Wilson investgators ruled her death as suspicious, but would not call it a homicide or a suicide.

Police said notes found around the home suggest Patterson was planning her own memorial.

"We found several notes throughout the residence and art studio that had requests on there -- types of songs to be played at a memorial service, things of that nature," said Sgt. Keith Pendergrass of the Wilson Police Department.

"I know that she was very unhappy. You don't do that if you're happy, but everything she did was an act of love," husband Russell Patterson said.

Police would not answer questions about rumors that Patterson's body was found in a freezer.

Investigators removed crime scene tape late Friday after police said an autopsy showed no signs of trauma that would suggest foul play.

On Monday, collegues and students held a memorial service at Barton College.

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