Local News

Authorities: Wreck didn't kill Spring Lake man, wife did

Posted July 30, 2013 3:18 p.m. EDT
Updated July 31, 2013 5:16 a.m. EDT

— Suspicious family members and a keen-eyed mortician led to a Harnett County woman being charged with killing her husband.

David Lokeith Worley, 39, of Docs Road in Spring Lake, was involved in a single-car crash on July 19. The State Highway Patrol said he was speeding on Ray Road, about 16 miles south of Lillington, when he ran off the left side of the road, and he was thrown from the car as it flipped several times.

Vernon Peterson of Unity Funeral Home told authorities that he found what appeared to be stab wounds on Worley's back as he prepared the body for burial, Harnett County investigators stated in an affidavit for a search warrant. The body was then sent to a medical examiner for an autopsy.

"We all were in agreement that this was something a lot bigger than a traffic accident," Peterson said Tuesday. "There are wounds that I think about with an accident, but these wounds that we saw were not consistent with damages from an automobile accident."

Highway Patrol officials said the standard protocol is for a medical examiner to transport any fatality in a vehicle crash to a hospital or morgue before the body goes to the funeral home.

In fact, county investigators looked over Worley's body at Betsy Johnson Hospital, thinking he might be linked to a crime earlier in the day where a suspect had been shot at and fled. In their search for gunshot wounds, those investigators did not find the stab wounds. 

Family members had also told a worker at the funeral home to check for possible wounds because Worley had been in a fight with his wife shortly before he died and that she had stabbed him, according to the affidavit.

The medical examiner determined that Worley had been stabbed with an 8-inch butcher knife and that one of the wounds had punctured a lung, the affidavit states. He told investigators that the wound was the cause of his death, as it would have caused Worley to lose control of his motor skills within an hour, according to the affidavit.

Investigators found Toni Marsha Talley in the process of moving out of the couple's Spring Lake home and asked her to go to the Harnett County Sheriff's Office to discuss Worley's death. There, they noticed her gold fingernail polish was similar to gold flecks found on a blood-soaked shirt found in Worley's wrecked car.

The search warrant was to obtain samples of Talley's nail polish for comparison to the flecks.

Talley, 32, was charged last week with first-degree murder in Worley's death. She was released from the Harnett County jail Tuesday after posting a $200,000 bond.