Knightdale, N.C. — The brother of a Knightdale woman who was found slain in her bed inadvertently tipped off authorities that something had happened to his younger sister, according to a 911 call released Thursday.
Seventy-year-old John Wesley Winters Jr., who was found injured and confused alongside Interstate 95 in Prince William County, Va., last week, apparently said something to a psychiatrist that prompted concern about his 55-year-old sister, Seanne Winters Barnette.
According to the 911 call, a woman who identified herself as Winters’ ex-wife asked authorities to check on Barnette after talking with the psychiatrist.
“(Winters) was found wandering on I-95 yesterday, confused, and was admitted to a hospital in Virginia,” the woman told 911. “Today, they had a psychiatrist consult, and I just spoke with her, and she’s concerned about his sister.”
Police found Barnette dead in her apartment Saturday, covered in blood and draped in an American flag. Winters is being held in Virginia on a stolen vehicle charge. He has not been charged in connection with her death.
A friend of Barnette’s remembered her as a caring mentor who made a difference in the lives of others.
“She was literally someone who cared about kids, and kids in the community in general. She just didn't deserve what happened to her,” said Chakara Conyers, who grew up in the neighborhood where Barnette once lived.
Conyers said that when her mother became ill, Barnette became her mentor.
“Miss Seanne came into my life at a time when I needed another mom,” she said.
Both Barnette and Winters are children of Raleigh's first black City Council member, John Winters Sr., who was elected in 1961. Barnette was a special-needs teacher for seven years at Holt Elementary School in Durham but stopped teaching full time in 2011 to care for her ailing mother, who died in September of that year.
Winters has been homeless for years, and authorities and close family friends said Barnette took him in after she saw her brother on WRAL News being interviewed at Shepherd's Table Soup Kitchen in downtown Raleigh.
As Conyers struggles to understand what happened, she vowed Thursday to continue Barnette’s good work in the community. Conyers, an author, is trying to start a program to help children gain writing skills.
“I know that what I'm doing now is something that she would be smiling upon, and she would be thankful for it,” she said.