Local News

Elderly mom, daughter 'brutally murdered'

Posted May 8, 2010 6:43 a.m. EDT
Updated May 9, 2010 3:33 p.m. EDT

— A Roanoke Rapids man killed and robbed his 92-year-old neighbor and her 65-year-old daughter, a Durham school employee who was visiting for Mother's Day weekend, police and family members said Saturday.

Tony Maurice Gorham, 28, was charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of Maxine McCrary, of Roanoke Rapids, and her daughter Nancy Burgess, of Durham.

The women were "brutally murdered" in McCrary's home at 311 U.S. Highway 158, police Chief Jeff Hinton said. He said robbery appears to have been the motive. Some items, including a pocketbook, were taken from the home.

"Any murder is horrible, but especially elderly victims," Hinton said.

McCrary's son, James, who lives in Suffolk, Va., called 911 at 11:13 p.m. because the phone at his mother's house had been busy for hours, Hinton said. He told dispatchers that he had been on the phone with his sister earlier in the evening.

"I wanted to make sure they were alright, because somebody came to the back door, and my sister said it was the guy who lives next door, wanting to use the phone," James McCrary said in the 911 call.

"He'd been over there once or twice a day to use the phone, and she said, 'I'm going to let him use the phone. You just call me back in about 10 minutes,'" he continued. "That was 7:30, 8 o'clock, and it's been busy ever since."

Police went to the house and discovered that McCrary and Burgess had been killed, Hinton said. Officers arrested Gorham at an apartment on Oakridge Drive around 4:30 a.m. The State Bureau of Investigation assisted police.

Burgess was the budget secretary at Carrington Middle School in Durham, spokesman Michael Yarborough said. She had been with Durham Public Schools for more than 25 years.

Gorham worked at St. Mary's Assisted Living in Pleasant Hill, according to a supervisor at the facility, and was also serving a 36-month probation sentence, according to state Department of Correction records.

Gorham's girlfriend Valerie McGee said that she was stunned by the arrest. On Saturday, friends helped her move out of the house at 313 N.C. 158 where they had lived.

“I can't believe it. That is not the Tony that I know. The Tony that I know, he is a nice, kind person,” said McGee.

Gorham was on probation for 2008 convictions for felony possession of stolen goods and wanton injury to person or property, DOC records show. His criminal record dates to 1998 and includes convictions for common-law robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.