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Search warrant: Knightdale woman found dead, covered in US flag

Posted October 16, 2013

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— A Knightdale woman who was found dead in her apartment Saturday morning was lying face up, covered in blood with a U.S. flag draped over her, according to a search warrant released Wednesday.

Police found Seanne Winters Barnette, 55, dead at her home on Sappony Drive at Alta Legacy Oaks apartments. Her brother, John Wesley Winters Jr., 70, has been named a suspect in her murder.

He was arrested in Prince William County, Va. – about 250 miles from Knightdale – on Thursday after state troopers found him along the side of Interstate 95 in a 2008 PT Cruiser belonging to his sister. He reportedly had injuries and was in a "confused mental state," according to the search warrant.

Winters faces a charge for the theft of Barnette's car, but he has not been charged in her death. Police found her body after family members requested a well-being check.

Authorities haven't said how Barnette died or how long she might have been dead, but neighbors told police they hadn't seen her for about a week, according to the search warrant.

When officers arrived at the home, they saw flies coming in and out of the apartment through an open window and later found Barnette's body.

Police took about 24 items from the home, according to the search warrant, including a fishing line spool and a black cord. They also took 10 items from the PT Cruiser, including a folding knife.

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.

The organization's executive director, Tamara Gregory, said Winters was a regular who dined there nearly every day for the past two years.

A man of few words, she said, he was always very complimentary and thankful.

"He just has always been so kind, and so mild-mannered is how he's always seemed the past couple of years," she said. "I've never dreamt someone like him would have a violent bone in his body."

15 Comments

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  • 678devilish Oct 17, 2013

    Just wondering why did he cover her in the American flag? Was something behind that? Just curious.

  • 678devilish Oct 17, 2013

    Glad they caught the murderer and pray the courts will give this man life in prison/no parole. My condolences to her family and friends in their loss.

  • districtcadvocate Oct 16, 2013

    This whole matter is so sad. Seanne was undoubtedly the sweetess of all the children. I can remember when her father gave her away when she married Perry. I can remember all the good times I have spent w/John, Jr. and for that matter with all the family from a very early age.

    May God Bless the family and his angels welcome the soul of Seanne into heaven. May God also give the graces to John Jr. to deal with the circumstances that are engulfing his life. I know he had a heavy self imposed burden that he has carried for the past many years and that has no doubt colored his thinking. He needs all of our prayers especially. Finally I hope the family can find the wisdom of this past week and move forward as a stronger family. They have their own personal lifes to deal with and the added responsibility of being a high profile family.

    Hail Mary, full of grace blessed art thou amoung women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.

    Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and ou

  • Cueteegirl Oct 16, 2013

    Heartbreaking..prayers of hope and restoration to all of the family! Rest in Peace, Seanne...sweet angel.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Oct 16, 2013

    welfarequeen - "It's really not that uncommon to use a flag as a pall to cover a corpse."

    In government or military funerals, no.

    When an alleged murderer does it, yep...sure is.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Oct 16, 2013

    Awww geez, so sorry for the family and friends.

  • atheistswillrule Oct 16, 2013

    When officers arrived at the home, they saw flies coming in and out of the apartment through an open window and later found Barnette's body.

    Very sad.

  • bacchianm Oct 16, 2013

    It's really not that uncommon to use a flag as a pall to cover a corpse.

    It is when someone who murders them drapes the flag over them. That is very unusual.

  • welfarequeen Oct 16, 2013

    It's really not that uncommon to use a flag as a pall to cover a corpse.

  • Danny919 Oct 16, 2013

    So sad....

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