Local News

Wayne County Man Kills 14-Year-Old Stepdaughter, Authorities Say

Posted June 27, 2005

— Wayne County authorities are investigating the death of a 14-year-old girl who they said was killed by her stepfather.

At approximately 3:27 a.m. Monday, a Wayne County sheriff's deputy was dispatched to a home on Hinnant Road in response to a complaint of loud noises, the sheriff's office said. When the deputy arrived, he saw Roger Sutton, 32, walking along Hinnant Road.

Authorities said Sutton then confessed to killing his stepdaughter, Jonneka Spencer, and led the deputy to her body in a wooded area off of Church of God Road in Pikeville. Sutton was also charged for allegedly raping Spencer.

They believe Sutton stabbed Spencer several times in the chest in a nearby soybean field and then dragged the teenager to the wooded area.

About eight miles away, investigators said Spencer's mother was asleep in the family's home, unaware of what was happening.

As the investigation continued Monday, Spencer's classmates and teachers reacted to the news of her death. Spencer had just finished middle school and would have been attending high school in the fall.

"To think that someone could love a child -- could do something like that to a child," said Gail Pittman, a teacher at Spencer's middle school.

To a 14-year-old classmate, no explanation makes sense.

"It's hard to take," said classmate Emily Pittman. "It's really scary, just to know it can happen to anybody."

Investigators said they do not yet know what his motive was in Spencer's death. They did find a hunting knife they think might have been used in the crime. It has been sent off for testing. Spencer's body was transported to the Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill for further investigation.

Sutton, who has been charged with one count of murder and one count of first-degree statutory rape, had just been released from jail on bond after being charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. Detectives said that case, with a non-family member, involved drugs.

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