Local News

Woman Found Dead at Bottom of Stairwell

Posted February 25, 2007 11:47 a.m. EST
Updated February 25, 2007 7:02 p.m. EST

— One woman was dead and her partner arrested after a domestic incident in Fayetteville early Sunday morning.

Authorities were called to the Cambridge Arms Apartments off McPherson Church Road about 4:30 a.m., where they found Michele Vasquez, 27, dead at the bottom of a stairwell.

Detectives have charged Jocquelette N. Rawlings, 20, with first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

Neighbor Darren Holland said he heard Vasquez arguing with another woman. He ran up the stairs and then saw Vasquez being pushed off the balcony, he said. He attempted to save her, but failed.

“I grabbed her with my left hand and she slipped through me and fell backwards,” Holland said.

Investigators said Rawlings lived with Vasquez. Friends told WRAL the two had a romantic relationship that was also rocky.

Before the altercation, friends said Vasquez was out celebrating. Sunday would have been her 27th birthday.

Darrell McLaughlin was with Vasquez at local bars the night before. The two met working at the Smithfield Packing Plant in Tarheel.

“She was an outgoing person and really loving,” McLaughlin said. “We've both been through so much. I kind of related to hear and looked up to her.”

Holland said he often heard the two women fighting and remembered what he told them once.

“I said, ‘One day, one of y'all are going to kill each other,’” Holland said. “And then it happened on her birthday.”