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Friends remember two women killed in Roanoke Rapids

Posted May 9, 2010
Updated May 10, 2010

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— Friends are mourning the loss of a Durham school employee and her mother after they were killed late Friday in Roanoke Rapids.

Roanoke Rapids Police Chief Jeff Hinton said Nancy Burgess, 65, and her mother, Maxine McCrary, 92, were stabbed to death in McCrary's home at 311 U.S. Highway 158.

Grief counselors will be available at Carrington Middle School, where Burgess worked as the budget secretary, starting Monday, to assist students and staff, school officials said.

“What a horrific tragedy. It is truthfully a little bit beyond my comprehension how something like this could happen to such a sweet soul,” said Julie Spencer, principal of Carrington Middle.

Spencer said Burgess visited her mother often in Roanoke Rapids. She had recently talked about the presents she had bought her mom for Mother's Day and that she planned to take her out to lunch Sunday.

“I know this past week she spoke very fondly of plans that she was going to spend with her mother for Mother's Day,” Spencer said.

McCrary's son, James, who lives in Suffolk, Va., called 911 Friday evening because the phone at his mother's house had been busy for hours, Hinton said. He told dispatchers that he had been on the phone with his sister earlier in the evening.

"I wanted to make sure they were alright, because somebody came to the back door, and my sister said it was the guy who lives next door, wanting to use the phone," James McCrary said in the 911 call.

Police went to the house and discovered that McCrary and Burgess had been killed, Hinton said.

Officers arrested Tony Maurice Gorham, 28, at an apartment on Oakridge Drive around 4:30 a.m. Saturday. He was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of the two women.

Hinton said Gorham lived next door to McCrary and that robbery appears to have been the motive. Some items, including a pocketbook, were taken from the home.

Burgess had been with Durham Public Schools for more than 25 years. The faculty at Carrington Middle plans to honor Burgess at a staff meeting Monday afternoon.

“This is a loss of not only a wonderful employee, but just a very dear friend, a wonderful role model,” Spencer said. “We all want to be like Ms. Burgess.”

Gorham is being held in the Halifax County jail without bond.  His first court appearance is set for Tuesday.


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  • UPTOP May 10, 2010

    If he's indeed the one who took their lives he deserves what ever comes to him. My heart goes out to the family !!

  • BluAmazon May 10, 2010

    If he did this, I hope he fries!

  • Tarheel born May 10, 2010

    cuno,,,,,perhaps you've forgotten the bible also says "an eye for an eye". Take a life-you must give your life as payment......

  • FE May 10, 2010

    "i say the Lord is still in control and we have to trust in Him that He will handle situations like this accordingly.. stop casting stones please" - cuno2

    No one here is tossing rocks at anyone except a cold-blooded killer of two innocent ladies in their golden years.

    I doubt if any "prayer" would have slowed him down had he broken into YOUR own home.


  • Tarheelfan13 May 10, 2010

    cuno2, I am about as fundamentalist Christian as one can get. But we cannot treat first degree heinous murders like this is fairy tale land. This is a serious matter where a family today has lost loved ones due to a senseless murder by a person who has no regard for human life. In theory, this murderer if convicted does not even deserve to be treated like a human being anymore and that is saying a lot because I consider myself one of the most loving and compasionate people there is.

  • cuno2 May 10, 2010

    i agree that this was a horrible act but yet and still who are we to judge..God never promised this life on this earth would be free of evil..my heart goes out to both families everyone lost somebody, this is a no win situation...a lot of people up here scream death penalty but why continue to glorify the devil with more murder while he sits back and laugh.. i say the Lord is still in control and we have to trust in Him that He will handle situations like this accordingly.. stop casting stones please

  • Fireflies Rock May 10, 2010

    this isn't about someone needing money. Someone who can violently murder two harmless elderly women is a vicious individual and coward. My heart grieves for these two women celebrating their special day together, and all those who knew and loved them. Our society is in need of repair.

  • bmg379 May 10, 2010

    bring back public executions for these brutal murders

  • FE May 10, 2010

    Heck, if the perp had done this in Wake County he (apparently) can kill at least three more people and STILL get life-time taxpayer-provided room & board.


  • dissatisifiedwitheverything May 10, 2010

    This punk needs the death penalty. I, for one, don't want my tax dollars wasted on him. He's not worth it. He'll probably try to claim "he was abused as a child." People like this make me sick. Get a job, earn your money, don't steal it. Have a job? Still not making enough money? Get a second job. Make yourself a job. Mow grass, rake leaves, wash cars, walk somebody's dog, clean gutters, wash outside windows. EARN YOUR MONEY!!!