Local News

Search Warrants Suggest Fatal Elderly Attacks Were Planned

Posted December 12, 2007 11:30 a.m. EST
Updated December 12, 2007 8:12 p.m. EST

— Investigators found a list of ways to camouflage the taste of anti-freeze as well as other notes inside the car of a housekeeper accused of fatally bludgeoning her elderly employers, according to search warrants that WRAL News obtained Wednesday.

The six warrants suggest that Barbara Clark, 41, of Pittsboro, planned the attacks against Margaret Murta, 92, and Mary Corcoran, 82, last Wednesday morning in the Galloway Ridge apartment that Murta and Corcoran shared.

Murta died the day of the attacks. Corcoran died Saturday at UNC Hospitals. A third victim, Rebecca Fisher, 77, was listed in fair condition Wednesday.

Sheriff's investigators also found a notebook in Clark's purse that listed Murta's drug allergies and an envelope with notes inside that read "put a bag or something over her face" and "put in her closet under clothes," the arrants show.

Another handwritten note, apparently related to Corcoran, read: "hit over head or use stun gun, put in closet or bathroom in shower, or closet under clothes."

Investigators also seized a number of items from Clark's home, including her computer, personal journal and address book. They also took a gallon of anti-freeze and a handbag containing multiple medications and syringe.

Clark, who authorities say used pepper spray and a cane-like object to attack the three women, faces two counts of murder, once count of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.

According to the warrants, Clark initially told investigators she had gone to the retirement community to help Murta and Corcoran pick up a Christmas tree and that she witnessed a black man assaulting the women.

Deputies searched for a man the day of the attacks, but they said after Clark's arrest that evening that they had doubts about her account almost from the beginning.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said a decision whether to seek the death penalty would likely be in January after he reviews investigators' reports and evidence.

Investigators said Clark used to work for Murta and Corcoran and became angry during a dispute with them over money. A witness told investigators that the sisters had told her that Clark had stolen and forged checks from them, according to the warrant.

Fisher, who lives across the hall, was in the apartment because Murta and Corcoran had asked her to witness their discussion with Clark, according to the warrants said.

Investigators also found other handwritten notes reading: "write me two new checks from peg (sic), $1,000.00 + $2,000.000 (sic)" and "write two from mary's (sic) account, $950.00 + 1,000.00 For Dec. Pay (sic)."

A family member of Clark's told WRAL last week that she had serious financial difficulties.

In 2001, she was convicted of misdemeanor larceny and obtaining property by false pretense in connection with the theft of checks from a 90-year-old man. Clark was working as a certified nursing assistant at The Forest at Duke, an upscale Durham retirement community, at the time.

As part of her sentence, she was ordered "not to work in a position where (she) has access to the elderly's property and possessions."

Chatham County deputies arrested Clark in September on a charge that she had taken, forged and cashed checks for more than $12,000 from a former client of her Barbara's Enterprises cleaning service.