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Smithfield woman's death a possible homicide

Posted June 25, 2010

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— The widow of a prominent Smithfield attorney was found dead inside her home Thursday evening, and detectives are investigating the death as a possible homicide.

Police officers were called to 309 N. Third St. around 5 p.m. after Patricia Stevens' son found her body on the floor with a blanket over her.

Investigators said there were no signs of forced entry into the home, but they declined to comment further on the case, including a motive or how the 74-year-old might have died.

Stevens was married to Lee Austin Stevens, who died in June 2005. She had lived in the home, near Smithfield's downtown, since then.

Authorities said Stevens' son had gone to pick up his mother for a dinner date Thursday evening.

"We were shocked. The whole neighborhood was shocked," said Al Wellons, a longtime family friend. "She was just a lovely lady. She was a great mother, a great wife."

The case has neighbors alarmed, and police urged residents Friday to take extra safety precautions.

"The neighborhood is worried if it was a criminal act and if there is anybody in the neighborhood," Wellons said.

Extra officers have also been on patrol and were to patrol the area Friday night, police said.

The State Bureau of Investigation and the Johnston County District Attorney's Office are assisting in the homicide investigation, authorities said.

Smithfield police are asking for the public's help in the case and are offering a reward.

Anyone with information about it should call the Smithfield Police Department at 919-934-2121 or the Smithfield Police Department Tip Line at 919-989-8835.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • jtripp8 Jun 25, 2010

    I know the family. I know P and M . A dedicated family. P was away on trip with school children. Had to fly home. Another tragedy for Johnston County.

  • Tired of thoughtlessness Jun 25, 2010

    Sad...Prayers for the family

  • Retired07 Jun 25, 2010

    Well lets wait and see the suspect for all that have a doubt about the perpertrator of most crimes??

  • dlangston Jun 25, 2010

    mzrozz2 ...yes i found that out at noon.... i grew up with them ...trying to get in touch with them now.. Do you work with M OR P ?

  • mzrozz2 Jun 25, 2010

    Kristie, this was the mother of twins daughters and one son. It's the family that you are thinking it is.

  • rbadgett Jun 25, 2010

    This woman was my parent's neighbor. She was kind to everyone. The thoughts of her last moments horrify me!! This has shaken a community for sure! My prayers are with her family. She is with Jesus and her husband now!

  • thefensk Jun 25, 2010

    Be interested in details. There was a homicide just up the road in Kenly just recently ... give the access to I95 have to wonder if the two incidents are related.

  • cth1 Jun 25, 2010

    "A woman has been murdered. Show some respect for the family. stephyruns"

    I was thinking the same thing!! This isn't a debate on racism.. it's about a woman possibly being murdered in her own home. Show some compassion for the family and quit nit-picking words!!

    Prayers for the family and friends left behind to mourn the loss of this woman!!

  • scarletindurham Jun 25, 2010

    oh, my god. You people are SO petty with your politically correct garbage. You are everything that is wrong with this country - everyone wants to complain, dance around the REAL issue, remain PC all the time, meanwhile the REAL issues are completely ignored.

    A woman has been murdered. Show some respect for the family.

  • Twittyfan Jun 25, 2010

    This is so sad but reality in this day and time. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Ms Stevens. It doesn't matter what race, sex, age you are it is still a crime and they need to be caught and it was a senseless act for someone to commit.