State News

Cause of insurance examiner's death can't be determined

Posted September 19, 2008

— An autopsy says the body of a state insurance investigator that was found in South Carolina in May was so badly decomposed that medical examiners can not determine how she died.

The autopsy report released Friday by the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said the body of Sallie Rohrbach, 44, of Angier, was wrapped partially in garbage bags when it was found. The report said that there were no signs of skull or neck injury and that the body was identified with dental records.

Michael Howell, 40, owner of the Dilworth Insurance Agency, has been charged with murder. Officials said Rohrbach was sent from Raleigh to Howell's Charlotte office to examine his books.

Soon after Rohrbach's body was found, sources within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department told CBS affiliate WBTV that she died from blunt force trauma and that the slaying occurred inside Howell's office.

Police seized a stick from the office as possible evidence in early June, according to a search warrant. Testing produced positive results for traces of blood on a carpet and computer cord.

Rohrbach disappeared May 14, and her body was founded in a wooded area of York County, S.C., on May 20.


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  • shirleyr1 Sep 19, 2008

    WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT FOR ANYONE THAT HAS FOLLOWED THIS CASE. If this man does not go to trial and conviction because of this "no cause of death", I am sure that the law enforcement folks in Charlotte will be as devastated as the family after all their hard work. With the temperatures being what they were in South Carolina, and black garbage bags, I know what my trash can is like after 24 hours.....what about yours?

  • dogsrule12cheek Sep 19, 2008

    This terrible to happen to such an innocent person doing her job.
    that man needs to be put under the Jail.

  • FE Sep 19, 2008

    A body inside closed plastic bags in a warm (damp?) environment for a period of a week can decompose a LOT! It's absolutely ridiculous to "blame" someone for what Mother Nature can do to human tissue under such circumstances.

  • teacher-mom Sep 19, 2008

    This is a shame.

  • familyfour Sep 19, 2008

    She died because he killed her. It just stinks that, like mentioned before, with all the modern technology, we can't give this family the justice of knowing how that man killed this woman, and the justice of making darn sure he gets prosecuted for what he did. WHERE ARE THE VICTIMS RIGHTS? Our system is so busy trying to protect the accused, that the victim gets lost in the shuffle. Just plain wrong.

  • iron fist Sep 19, 2008

    someone must have someone in their pocket. I would hate to think the justice system is that corrupt but something is really wrong here.

  • ratherbnnc Sep 19, 2008

    He can very possibly walk on this one! It has to be ruled as a homicide and the medical examiner is the only one who can classify it as a homicide by manner of death. So, nothing they can show that it was murder. All the defense has to say is natural causes. he panicked and disposed of the body. Only a misdemeanor in that case.

  • Eduardo1 Sep 19, 2008

    I sure does stink. It has traveled all the way to right outside Holly Springs. I just watched on the Discovery Channel how saber tooth tigers, lived, what they ate, how they killed, how they died. We can not figure with modern technology how someone died in a period of a week. Lets get Horatio in, take off his sunglasses and we will know.

  • Gooseye Sep 19, 2008

    Throw a raw chicken/turkey into the woods, come back in 6 days and see what's left.

  • Ladybug Sep 19, 2008

    Sounds fishy to me - in just a few days, it was to badly decomposed! Seems it would take longer than that!