Local News

Warrant: Father charged with killing son had affair

Posted October 7, 2010 11:05 a.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2010 11:56 a.m. EDT

— A Durham County man charged last month with killing his 4-year-old son and trying to kill two older children had at least one extramarital affair, according to a search warrant released this week.

Joseph Anthony Mitchell, 46, of 17 Thistle Trace in Hillsborough, has been charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. He remains in safe-keeping custody at Central Prison in Raleigh.

Blake Mitchell was killed early Sept. 22 in the family home, and a Durham County Sheriff's Office investigator said the boy's injuries were consistent with suffocation or strangulation.

Two other children in the home at the time, Devon Mitchell, 10, and Lexi Mitchell, 13, told investigators that they awoke to find their father trying to cover their mouths or faces, and they had to fend him off, according to a previous search warrant.

Joseph Mitchell was found with stab wounds and cuts that authorities say were self-inflicted.

Investigators took computers and information on life insurance policies, including policies on the three children, from the home.

According to the new search warrant, two laptops and one desktop computer, an external hard drive and two USB portable drives have been turned over to FBI analysts for examination.

Investigators want to find out if Joseph Mitchell had been in contact with any life insurance company or financial institution or if he had researched the nature of life insurance policies, death by asphyxiation or suffocation or forensic evidence found at a murder scene, according to the warrant.

The warrant also states that investigators obtained evidence that was corroborated by his wife, Christine Mitchell, that Joseph Mitchell had had at least one affair. Investigators want FBI analysts to check the computers for e-mail, instant messages, photos or other online clues of extramarital relationships, according to the search warrant.

The family had suffered numerous financial setbacks, and neither Joseph Mitchell nor his wife had reliable incomes, investigators said.

According to court records, the family's house in the Hardscrabble Plantation subdivision was foreclosed on in mid-June. Investigators said the house was supposed to be turned over to a bank in the coming weeks.

Numerous papers had been served on the family in an effort to collect on other debts, according to a previous search warrant.