Local News

Search Warrants Suggest Fatal Elderly Attacks Were Planned

Posted December 12, 2007

— Investigators found a list of ways to camouflage the taste of anti-freeze as well as other notes inside the car of a housekeeper accused of fatally bludgeoning her elderly employers, according to search warrants that WRAL News obtained Wednesday.

The six warrants suggest that Barbara Clark, 41, of Pittsboro, planned the attacks against Margaret Murta, 92, and Mary Corcoran, 82, last Wednesday morning in the Galloway Ridge apartment that Murta and Corcoran shared.

Murta died the day of the attacks. Corcoran died Saturday at UNC Hospitals. A third victim, Rebecca Fisher, 77, was listed in fair condition Wednesday.

Sheriff's investigators also found a notebook in Clark's purse that listed Murta's drug allergies and an envelope with notes inside that read "put a bag or something over her face" and "put in her closet under clothes," the arrants show.

Another handwritten note, apparently related to Corcoran, read: "hit over head or use stun gun, put in closet or bathroom in shower, or closet under clothes."

Investigators also seized a number of items from Clark's home, including her computer, personal journal and address book. They also took a gallon of anti-freeze and a handbag containing multiple medications and syringe.

Clark, who authorities say used pepper spray and a cane-like object to attack the three women, faces two counts of murder, once count of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.

According to the warrants, Clark initially told investigators she had gone to the retirement community to help Murta and Corcoran pick up a Christmas tree and that she witnessed a black man assaulting the women.

Deputies searched for a man the day of the attacks, but they said after Clark's arrest that evening that they had doubts about her account almost from the beginning.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said a decision whether to seek the death penalty would likely be in January after he reviews investigators' reports and evidence.

Investigators said Clark used to work for Murta and Corcoran and became angry during a dispute with them over money. A witness told investigators that the sisters had told her that Clark had stolen and forged checks from them, according to the warrant.

Fisher, who lives across the hall, was in the apartment because Murta and Corcoran had asked her to witness their discussion with Clark, according to the warrants said.

Investigators also found other handwritten notes reading: "write me two new checks from peg (sic), $1,000.00 + $2,000.000 (sic)" and "write two from mary's (sic) account, $950.00 + 1,000.00 For Dec. Pay (sic)."

A family member of Clark's told WRAL last week that she had serious financial difficulties.

In 2001, she was convicted of misdemeanor larceny and obtaining property by false pretense in connection with the theft of checks from a 90-year-old man. Clark was working as a certified nursing assistant at The Forest at Duke, an upscale Durham retirement community, at the time.

As part of her sentence, she was ordered "not to work in a position where (she) has access to the elderly's property and possessions."

Chatham County deputies arrested Clark in September on a charge that she had taken, forged and cashed checks for more than $12,000 from a former client of her Barbara's Enterprises cleaning service.


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  • Jennifer Dec 13, 2007

    It sickens me to see how greed had taken control of her life, and the measures that she took to take advantage of people. If only she had applied that energy for the good. I don't want to be around when she meets her Maker; there's going to be some sparks flying!

  • floriduhschoolboy Dec 13, 2007

    It was not a hate crime. Hate crimes are stupid laws to begin with. When you start trying to punish people over what they are 'thinking', then you are treading on VERY shaky grounds constitutionally. Has anyone ever watched "Minority Report"? Punish the crime, and the crime only, not what someone was thinking.

  • Rocknhorse Dec 13, 2007

    I detest a person who harms children or the elderly. What this parasite did was evil for her own selfish desires. I agree, when found guilty in court, she deserves the death penalty. Of course, personally, I feel that should be equal to the way she killed her victims.

  • NCJB Dec 13, 2007

    The elderly woman called the murdering thief to her house so that she could discuss some hot checks that were written against her account. The murdering thief knew she was caught and planned the murder. She was not expecting the other two women to be there, so she attacked them so there would be no witnesses.

  • NCMOMof3 Dec 13, 2007

    Why are some even arguing "hate crime"? Aren't most crimes a hate crime of some sort? I hate you because you are different from me in some way? Whether it be race, religion, age, looks, money, where you live, where you go to school, what color clothes you wear, what kind of car you drive, what language you speak, because you cut me off in traffic, and the list could go on and on. Crime is crime. Period. Our justice system needs to be more stringent and justice needs to be swift and severe. Stop making excuse after excuse. "oh, he came from a bad home, her momma did drugs, his daddy beat him, her momma abandoned her, etc". There comes a time in everyone's life where we are responsible for our own actions and those actions should have swift consequences without unlimited 2nd chances

  • Spooner Dec 13, 2007

    To happymom and others saying this was not a hate crime:

    You stated that a Hate crimes happens when someone targets a victim BECAUSE OF the victim's race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, AGE, gender, gender identity, or political affiliation.

    What part about your statement did you not read regarding DISABILITY and AGE being part of the group of things that make up a hate crime? With these victims being twice as old as the defendent; where do you not see the "hate" in choosing a victim that would be unable to defend themselves? A victim with "one foot in the grave" as my grandmother used to say. Too many of you are clinging to "hate crime" being used in the racial sense. Which this may be also, but we will never know if she targeted them because they were white. People dont voluntarily admit to being racist; especially those being accused of murder.

  • CoCo Dec 13, 2007

    Death penalty. Premeditated and violent double murder, lying to police, prior convictions for robbing the elderly she was hired to assist. Don't need to know anything else. Society does not have time or money to waste further on this creature.

  • Heatherbrook Dec 13, 2007

    With Barbara's record, Why was she not in prision? Where does the responsibility rest?

  • twc Dec 13, 2007

    It is not a hate crime! If the women had been black and had something clark wanted they would have been just as dead! From the notes clark wrote it is very obvious this is a capital punishment case. Let's just thank God there was no black man in the area at the time that could have been blamed if clark's description of an attacker was believed!! He could have been locked up and she would be free to steal and murder again! If she receives the death penalty it is very unlikely it will ever be carried out but at least her confinement will be stricter, thus preventing future victims!! What an animal!!

  • KMG Dec 12, 2007

    re: patrician's post

    It bears repeating that Clark was NOT a Galloway Ridge employee. In an independent living community, residents can invite anyone to work into their home - just as you or I would in our home.

    Clark was a housekeeper for the ladies before they moved to the retirement community. Galloway Ridge does employ its own housekeepers who go through a rigorous background screening. Clark was AT NO TIME a Galloway Ridge employee.

    While Peg and Mary certainly were frail compared to you or I, it really doesn't do these ladies justice or honor their memory for people to assume they were incompetent and unable to handle their own affairs. They were seniors, yes, but empowered, smart, vital women who lived amazing lives.

    And for heaven's sake QUIT IT WITH THE HATE CRIME COMMENTS! Two women are dead. Murder is murder. Clark could have been purple polka-dotted and it wouldn't change her crime. She is a cold-blooded killer and no ones skin color has a darn thing to do with it.