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Woman charged in death of 80-year-old Kenly man

Posted December 2, 2010

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— Johnston County deputies arrested a Selma woman early Thursday in connection with the June death of an 80-year-old Kenly man.

Crystal Diane Worley, 37, of 336 Napoleon Road, faces charges of first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon in the slaying of James Eldridge "Tom" Cooper.

Arrest warrants state that a hatchet was used in the crime and that $526 in cash and a black onyx ring worth about $125 were taken from Cooper's home.

A relative found Cooper dead in his 111 Crumpler Road home in Kenly on June 8. Warrants state that Cooper was killed three days earlier.

James E. "Tom" Cooper Suspect in slaying of Kenly man, 80, arrested

Cooper was a retired truck broker – he matched truck drivers with businesses and people that have cargo to ship.

He suffered multiple blows to the head, and his home was locked when his body was found, according to an autopsy report.

Authorities didn't disclose what evidence led to Worley's arrest, but Tammy Amaon, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, said that Worley knew Cooper and had done housework and yard work for him.

Worley was taken into custody so early in the morning that she was still wearing her pajamas when she was led into jail.

Making an arrest took a while because investigators wanted to a thorough job and had many people to interview, Amaon said. No other arrests are expected, she said.

Worley is divorced and most recently worked at Olive Farm Supply in Clayton.

Richard Olive, who owns the farm supply store, said Worley worked there on and off for three years. He described her as hard-working and said she "did not have a mean bone in her body."

Worley's criminal record, which dates from 2001, includes multiple convictions for larceny, according to state Department of Correction records.

Court records show that a 2009 charge of felony cocaine possession against Worley was dismissed, but she was given a five-day jail sentence for possession of drug paraphernalia. She also served two months in 2003 after her probation for larceny charges was revoked, DOC records show.

Neighbor Dorothy Taylor said Worley was quiet and kept to herself. Worley's mother and stepfather have custody of her two children, Taylor said.

"In the beginning, she was a just a friendly neighbor. Now, I'm like, I don't know what to think," Taylor said. "I still can't believe she's capable of something like that."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • beas Dec 2, 2010

    Bishop and everyone who is ready to kill this woman--I understand that forgiveness is a good thing, however, we are also responsible for our actions. Killing is never good and a justice system has been established to handle things such as this. The Lord forgives us of our sins, but He also punishes. Assuming she is indeed guilty of killing this man, she should be punished.

  • grayboomerang Dec 2, 2010

    Wildcat....unfortunately, we do live in a society that forgives. A society that forgives TOO MUCH. How many repeat offenders keep making the news? Eventually many of them end up killing an innocent person.

    So I don't think anyone needs to learn how to forgive. The system, needs to get tougher on crime instead of giving slaps on the wrist/forgiving/and letting them back in the street.

  • kholmesnova Dec 2, 2010

    Bishop-There are no words I could fathom to say that would cause anyone the same kind of pain and suffering that her physical act of killing him did; pain not only to Mr. Cooper, but his family and friends as well. The first thing to come from the mouth of a man of GOD in a situation like this, should be in regards to the sympathy and sorrow you feel for the family and their loss, instead this is the statement you make “INNONCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY!!! TAKE INVETORY OF YOUR LIVES AND TELL ME HAVE YOU ALWAYS DONE RIGHT!!” …. Would you defend her the same way, if it were your father she had been arrested for killing after 5 months of investigations and NO other suspects? Would it be words of forgiveness then?

  • AlwaysAmazed Dec 2, 2010


    So you're saying that expressing our opinions will end us up in jail. For real? This woman brutally murdered an 80 yr old man. Why should I say nice things about her? If she did that to your father, would you be defending her right now? I'm glad you're not in my family either. You don't make any sense.

  • Weetie Dec 2, 2010

    "She should be HANGED within moments of a guilty verdict" nccarguy

    I agree 100%! Make her an example so the next person who thinks about it MIGHT think twice!

  • Bartmeister Dec 2, 2010

    in all she is no diffrent from you all she's just in jail a place you all will be going the way you use such words. you all should be ashame of how you talk. you all should be ashame of how you treat folk is that how you treat your family when they do wrong if so thank heavans i'm not in it!

    I think you're trying to say that you are sorry for your views. Apology accepted.

  • jrhodes Dec 2, 2010

    Anybody here from Johnston County know if this girl's name used to be Crystal Stallings? I think I knew her about 20 years ago. If it's the same person, she used to be really sweet and much more attractive. If she's guilty, they need to go ahead and string her up though. Drug addiction is a bad dude.

  • Mr. Middle of the Road Dec 2, 2010

    Sad. She took a human life for $641.00. I am very sorry that she has come to a place in her life where she feels like she has to do something like that.

  • Con Amor brings luv and laughter Dec 2, 2010

    It's a sad day in America when a man works hard all his life, and makes it to the age of 80, only be knocked over the head with a hatchet, and killed, just for 500 some odd dollars and a ring! I hope that if she is guilty, she is never allowed to roam the streets again!

  • shortcake53 Dec 2, 2010

    Anyone so cold hearted as to kill a nice old man so brutally, amd someone she knew, deserves nothing less than the most severe punishment allowed.