Local News

Arrest made in slaying of Wayne Co. mother

Investigators say the suspect has been a person of interest since shortly after the 28-year-old mother's body was found by her young daughter inside their Fremont home.

Posted Updated

FREMONT, N.C. — A suspect has been arrested in connection with the slaying of a mother found dead inside her home.

Brandon Lee Williams, 23, of 2123 N.C. Highway East in Fremont, was charged Friday with murder in the death of Silvia Benetiz Morales, 23, at her 1273 Black Creek Road home on March 3.

"The public sometimes thinks that when an arrest is not swift, the law enforcement investigation stops," Sheriff Carey Winders said. "I want to stress that as long as there is even one small lead that needs to be pursued, we will do our best to follow that lead.

Morales' 7-year-old daughter found her mother's body when she got home from school. Morales' 3-year-old son was also in the house but was unharmed, authorities said.

An autopsy determined that Morales had been shot in the head, and evidence suggested she struggled with her killer.

Earlier, investigators said they were unsure of a motive, and that nothing was missing from the home and there was no forced entry.

Morales' husband, Javier, was working at a nearby farm when his wife was killed.

Detective Sgt. Tammy Odom headed the investigation that led to Williams' arrest, and Detective Lt. Carl Lancaster assisted. Winders had been actively involved in all stages of the investigation, said Capt. Tom Effler, supervisor of the sheriff's office's investigations division.

Effler thanked the public for its assistance and donors that had contributed to a $11,000 reward fund in the case. No reward has yet been paid out, but the investigation was continuing, Effler said.

Those who knew Morales said she was a loving mother and wife, a hard worker and an active member of her church. She and her husband were saving up to buy the house they were renting, but Javier Morales said the family has moved, because it became too difficult to live there.

Williams has twice served probation for separate convictions for second-degree trespassing and willful or wanton injury to real property. The incidents that prompted the charges both occurred in Wayne County in 2005.