Local News

Older women vulnerable to crime

Posted June 30, 2009 11:03 p.m. EDT
Updated July 1, 2009 7:06 a.m. EDT

— Search warrants, released Tuesday, show a cell phone led authorities to the man charged with the death of an 83-year-old woman. Paula McCance was found dead at 6937 Rock Service Station Road in Raleigh last week.

Highway Patrol officials arrested Michael Thomas Clark Jr., 37, during a traffic stop. According to search warrants, Clark lived behind McCance and stole her cell phone.  Cell phone records were used to track investigators to Clark.

McCance is one of three older women targeted in the past two weeks. While the cases aren't related, investigators say they serve as a reminder to put safety first.

"They are home by themselves and people know that. And what you have to remember is that the person who is normally going to break in, they know that the person can't hurt them as quickly as someone who is young and has a lot of energy,” Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said.

Kitty, who did not want to give her last name, says she is especially cautious since she lives alone. Every night the 83-year-old's routine is the same, she says.

"The inside door gets locked, the drapes get closed and don't knock on my door after dark because I don't answer it,” Kitty said.

Kitty is one of more than 50 elderly people in Wake County who get a call each day from the sheriff's office. It is part of the Citizens' Well-check Program, designed to make sure the elderly are OK. 

However, Kitty says she doesn't think she is a target for thieves.

"I have nothing for them to take, of course they don't always take something,” Kitty said.

The sheriff says, regardless of age, you should always keep your doors and windows locked. He also urges people to cut back shrubs from doors and windows, so neighbors can see what is going on. If you are confronted, Harrison says to scream and make as much noise as you can.

Recent cases involving older women

The suspect in McCance's slaying, Clark, is charged with first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, felony larceny of a motor vehicle, first-degree burglary, possession of heroin and conspiracy to sell and deliver heroin.

Judy Barefoot McLeod's body was found last week in her home at 109 Buckskin Lane in Erwin. Harnett County deputies charged Larry Donnell McDougald, 17, with 63-year-old's slaying. McDougald also lived near the victim, investigators said.

Raleigh police have ruled the death of Patsy Eason Barefoot, 60, of 3939-133 Wake Forest Road, as suspicious, but they have not released the cause of her death. Her body was found Saturday inside her home at Montecito Apartments.

Barefoot's silver 2002 Ford Focus, with North Carolina license plate RNY-5847, is missing, and police ask anyone with information about the car's whereabouts or the case to call the Raleigh Police Department’s Detective Division at 919-996-3555 or Raleigh Crime Stoppers at 919-834-HELP.