Local News

Charges filed in 24-year-old double homicide

Posted February 24, 2009 5:01 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:13 p.m. EDT

— Close to 24 years to the day after a Cumberland County couple was found slain in their home, a grand jury has indicted the husband's brother in their deaths.

The grand jury on Monday indicted Sean Patrick McDuffy, 48, on two counts of first-degree murder in the Feb. 21, 1985, deaths of his brother and sister-in-law.

Kelly McDuffy, 24, and Bobbie Michelle McDuffy, 20, were found dead in their home at 437 Squirrel St. in the Bonnie Doone community. Both had suffered sharp force trauma to their upper bodies, authorities said.

News accounts at the time reported a butcher knife was found in Kelly McDuffy's side.

Sean McDuffy, who lived with his brother and sister-in-law at the time of their deaths, was the prime suspect early on. In 1986, he was arrested in Phoenix and brought back to Fayetteville, but a judge said there was no probable cause for the arrest and he was released.

The case remained closed until Bobbie McDuffy's dying father asked investigators to reopen it.

"He had asked (a friend of his daughter) to contact the Sheriff's Office and asked them to reopen the case and take a look at it again," said Debbie Tanna, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

With the aid of investigators who worked the case in 1985, homicide detectives reopened the cold case in September 2007. After sifting through boxes of evidence, investigative notes and crime scene photos, they narrowed their focus to Sean McDuffy again, authorities said.

McDuffy has since moved to the Midwest, and detectives tracked him through Missouri, Ohio, Arizona and Georgia while gathering enough evidence to charge him.

He now is serving a prison sentence in Georgia on an attempted first-degree murder conviction for trying to decapitate his girlfriend. Authorities said he will be returned to North Carolina to stand trial in September after he is paroled in Georgia.

"Justice is finally done," Tanna said.