Local News

Suspect charged in Smithfield woman's death

Posted June 25, 2010 7:11 p.m. EDT
Updated June 26, 2010 7:16 a.m. EDT

— Smithfield police charged a man Friday in the death of a woman found inside her home Thursday evening, a block away from where he lives.

Matthew Hagert Salentine, 34, of 212-B N. Third St., was charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of 74-year-old Patricia Warren Stevens.

Salentine also faces one count each of armed robbery and first-degree burglary and three counts of uttering a forged instrument. He was being held in the Johnston County Jail Friday without bond.

Stevens' son found his mother dead around 5 p.m. Thursday when he went to her home at 309 N. Third St. to take her out to dinner.

Investigators said there were no signs of forced entry into the home, but they declined to comment further on the case, including a motive or how Stevens might have died.

Pete Russell, who lives next to Salentine, said his home was broken into last month. A weapon and jewelry were among the items stolen.

“We were just cleaned out,” Russell said. Police have not arrested anyone in connection with the break-in.

Russell described Salentine as having a temper. "He is Dr. Jekyll and Hyde," he said.