Ricky Bailey was arrested Saturday after being found in a vacant home in Zebulon.
Bailey told a judge Monday that he understood that he was being charged with the alleged murder and kidnapping of his estranged wife, Dena, in March.
When Amy Holland, Dena's sister, saw Bailey in handcuffs, a wave of relief finally hit.
"It was the first time we've actually smiled," she said.
Holland said she and her sister were best friends.
"[She was a] great mama, trying to be a good wife. [She] loved her job, loved everything," she said.
Dena's friends say that for two years, the young teacher's assistant had tried desperately to escape her estranged husband. They say Bailey even violated court orders, but he never spent much time in jail.
"A defendant has more rights than the victim. How is that right? How do you justify that?" said Betty Jo McCullen, Dena's friend.
The judge did not set bail in the case.
The Baileys have two children, ages nine and five.
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