Local News

Lee County Woman Charged With Murder Of Live-In Aunt

Posted January 9, 2001

— Charges of elderly abuse have turned to murder in Lee County. Melvie Stutts, 83, died Wednesday, and her live-in niece, Virginia Tucker, is charged with her death.

Tucker came to Lee County Court Thursday in hopes of a reduced bond and release, pending a probably cause hearing for second-degree murder. However, Jimmy Stutts, her cousin, came to make sure the bond remains high and she stays in jail. Stutts says years of abuse finally ended in one fatal episode.

"Virginia said she fell and left her in the bathroom on the floor and would bring food every once in a while to her, threw a blanket in there to her and let her laid there until New Year's Day," he says. "When she lost consciousness, then she panicked and called the paramedics."

For several years, Melvie Stutts lived with her sister, Rhona Phillips and her daughter, Virginia, at their home in Robbins.

Members of the family say Moore County Social Services intervened and removed Rhona from the home but left Melvie with Virginia. Last November, they moved to a house in Sanford.

"Why would Moore County Social Services take one of them away and leave the other," he sys.

Beth Duncan, director for Moore County Social Services, would not comment on this specific case, but she defends the department's policies.

"We have a routine report that we go through, a routine screening process, and we follow up on all allegations of abuse and neglect that warrant an investigation," she says.

The judge set Tucker's bond at $500,000. Her probable cause hearing is scheduled for January 24.


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